The effect of physician training and patient education on the discussion of care decisions at the internal medicine outpatient clinic

Saskia Briedé*, Maria A. de Winter, Tessa C. van Charldorp, Karin A.H. Kaasjager

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Background: Care decision discussions are intended to align treatment with the patient’s wishes, goals and values. To overcome the numerous barriers to such discussions, physicians as well as patients need tailored support. We evaluate the effect of a physicians’ training and a conversation aid for patients about care decisions on patient and physician outcomes. Methods: At the internal medicine outpatient clinic of the University Medical Centre Utrecht, a 1:1 randomized, parallel-group study (patient conversation aid) was combined with a pre-post intervention (physicians’ training) design. Primary outcome was patient satisfaction, secondary outcomes were patient-doctor relationship, shared-decision-making, doctor preparedness and patient appreciation of the conversation aid. Results: Between October 2018 and February 2020 11 physicians (36% residents, 73% female) and 185 patients (median age 58 years (interquartile range (IQR) 50–68), 60% male) participated. Only 28% of the patients reported a care decision discussion during the consultation. We found no effect of the interventions on patient satisfaction (effect sizes -0.14 (95% confidence interval (CI) -0.56–0.27) for conversation aid; 0.04 (95% CI -0.40–0.48) for physician’s training), nor on the patient-doctor relationship or shared-decision-making. However, physicians felt more prepared to discuss care decisions after training (median 3 (IQR 1–4) vs 1 (IQR 0–3), p = 0.015). Patients assessed the conversation aid informative and gave an overall mark of median 7 (IQR 7–8). Conclusions: First steps towards fruitful discussions about care decisions were made: patients considered the conversation aid informative and physicians felt better prepared to discuss care decisions after training. The low number of care decision conversations patients reported shows exactly how important it is to focus on interventions that facilitate these discussions, for both the patient and physician. Further work needs to be done to establish the best way to empower patients and physicians. Trial registration: Dutch trial register, trial 6998 (NTR 7188), registered 04/05/2018, https://www.trialregister.nl/trial/6998.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1569
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Care decisions
  • Communication training
  • Outpatient clinic
  • Patient education
  • Provider-patient communication
  • Treatment limitations

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