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Challenges in physician-patient communication for optimal management of systemic sclerosis-associated interstitial lung disease: a discourse analysis

Denton, CP; Laird, B; Moros, L; Flores, JLL; (2020) Challenges in physician-patient communication for optimal management of systemic sclerosis-associated interstitial lung disease: a discourse analysis. Clinical Rheumatology 10.1007/s10067-020-05063-x. Green open access

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Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a rare, potentially life-threatening condition. The prognosis is difficult to predict, and treatment is complex. This can be difficult to understand or explain, posing challenges for effective physician-patient communication. Our study assessed communication between physicians and patients with systemic sclerosis-associated interstitial lung disease (SSc-ILD) to identify information gaps and needs. METHODS: Twenty-three 20-min consultations between physicians (rheumatologists, pulmonologists) and patients (19 real, 4 actors) with diagnosed SSc-ILD across 6 countries were observed and recorded. Interactional sociolinguistic discourse analysis was used to understand the pattern and meaning of communication, whether the needs of both participants were met, and the level of understanding between participants. RESULTS: In most consultations, patients were given little opportunity to explain their concerns or ask questions. Physicians used plain language but would revert to medical terminology for complex issues. Patients would also use medical terminology, despite not fully understanding the terms, which led to some physicians mistakenly believing that patients had a better understanding than they did. Differences in cognitive models between physicians and patients were often responsible for misunderstandings. However, during effective consultations, patients were invited to tell their story, and physicians used techniques to check and demonstrate understanding, express empathy and build rapport. CONCLUSIONS: Communication challenges between physicians and patients limit joint understanding of SSc-ILD and may result in both parties misunderstanding important information and patients being less aware of self-help management approaches. Strategies should be developed with physicians to facilitate effective communication and increase patient understanding and support. Key Points • Physicians and patients have different explanatory models for SSc-ILD. • The differences between the physician-constructed model of SSc-ILD and the personal model patients construct often result in misunderstandings. • Many patients with SSc have learned the medical terminology for their condition, but their often limited understanding may lead to missed opportunities for physicians to provide clear explanations and correct misperceptions. • The style of consultation determines the information patients share and the degree to which they feel supported by, and confident in, their physicians' care.

Type: Article
Title: Challenges in physician-patient communication for optimal management of systemic sclerosis-associated interstitial lung disease: a discourse analysis
Location: Germany
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s10067-020-05063-x
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10067-020-05063-x
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Interstitial lung disease, Patient understanding, Physician-patient communication, Systemic sclerosis
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Medicine
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Medicine > Inflammation
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10095337
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