Health Care Providers Can Learn to Communicate Better with Patients

Release Date: December 18, 2012 | By Milly Dawson, Contributing Writer
Research Source: The Cochrane Library

KEY POINTS

  • Medical students, doctors and nurses can be taught to use a more holistic, patient-centered approach during medical consultations.
  • Patient-centered care training lasting 10 hours or less was as effective as longer training for health care providers.
  • Training health care providers in patient-centered interventions resulted in small improvements in patient satisfaction, the consultation process and health status.
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Medical students, doctors and nurses can be taught to use a more holistic, patient-centered approach during medical consultations, focusing on the person and not just their medical complaint, finds a new review in The Cochrane Library. Furthermore, short term training (less than 10 hours) was as effective as longer-term training.

Patient-centered care, which figures prominently in the new U.S. healthcare reform bill, is being promoted for its potential to encourage good health behavior and health outcomes, and to possibly reduce healthcare costs.

“Our study showed that healthcare providers can be trained effectively to involve patients in those patients’ own health decisions. Providers, including those still in training, can acquire skills to enhance their communication with patients about their concerns and treatment options,” wrote review authors Francesca Dwamena, M.D. and Robert Smith, M.D., of the College of Medicine at Michigan State University and Gelareh Sadigh, M.D., of the University of Michigan Medical Center.

The 43 studies reviewed involved teaching clinicians how to share control of the medical consultation process and health care decision-making by focusing on patients’ personal preferences. Health care providers and patients who participated in the patient-centered interventions reported small improvements in patient satisfaction, the health care consultation process and health status.

John F. P. Bridges, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Health Policy & Management at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health commented that though the review was accurate, implementation of the findings about the promotion of promote patient-centered care is limited by the lack of a detailed understanding of what actually constitutes patient-centeredness.

“There’s a general lack of understanding of what patients truly desire from health care,” Bridges notes. “Successfully designing and implementing interventions to promote patient-centeredness in the absence of such a comprehensive understanding of the needs and wants of patients is like trying to design modern drugs in the absence of an understanding of biology. How much of these things should we be doing, and what nature of things? Where? And what is it worth?”

TERMS OF USE: This story is protected by copyright. When reproducing any material, including interview excerpts, attribution to the Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health, is required. While the information provided in this news story is from the latest peer-reviewed research, it is not intended to provide medical advice or treatment recommendations. For medical questions or concerns, please consult a health care provider.

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For More Information:

Reach the Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health, at hbns-editor@cfah.org or (202) 387-2829.

The Cochrane Library (http://www.thecochranelibrary.com) contains high quality health care information, including systematic reviews from The Cochrane Collaboration. These reviews bring together research on the effects of health care and are considered the gold standard for determining the relative effectiveness of different interventions.

Dwamena F, Holmes-Rovner M, Gaulden CM, Jorgenson S, Sadigh G, Sikorskii A, Lewin S, Smith RC, Coffey J, Olomu A. Interventions for providers to promote a patient-centred approach in clinical consultations. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2012, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD003267. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003267.pub2

Tags for this article:
Medical Education   Communicate with your Doctors   Inside Healthcare  



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