Publicatie

Publication date

Patient coaching: what do patients want? A mixed methods study in waiting rooms of outpatient clinics.

Alders, I., Smits, C., Brand, P., Dulmen, S. van. Patient coaching: what do patients want? A mixed methods study in waiting rooms of outpatient clinics. PLoS One: 2022, 17(6), Art. nr. e0269677
Read online
Introduction
Effective communication in specialist consultations is difficult for some patients. These patients could benefit from support from a coach who accompanies them to and during medical specialist consultations to improve communication in the consultation room. This study aims to investigate patients' perspective on interest in support from a patient coach, what kind of support they would like to receive and what characterizes an ideal patient coach.

Methods
We applied a mixed method design to obtain a realistic understanding of patients' perspectives on a patient coach. Patients in the waiting rooms of outpatient clinics were asked to fill out a short questionnaire which included questions about demographic characteristics, perceived efficacy in patient-provider interaction and patients' interest in support from a patient coach. Subsequently, patients interested in a patient coach were asked to participate in a semi-structured interview. The quantitative data were examined using univariate analysis and the qualitative interview data were analysed using content analysis.

Results
The survey was completed by 154 patients and eight of them were interviewed. Perceived efficacy in patient-physician interactions was the only variable that showed a significant difference between patients with and without an interest in support from a patient coach. The interviews revealed that a bad communication experience was the main reason for having an interest in support from a patient coach. Before the consultation, a patient coach should take the time to get to know the patient, build trust, and help the patient create an agenda, so take the patient seriously and recognize the patient as a whole person. During the consultation, a patient coach should support the patient by intervening and mediating when necessary to elicit the patient's agenda. After the consultation, a patient coach should be able to explain and discuss medical information and treatment consequences. An ideal patient coach should have medical knowledge, a strong personality and good communication skills.

Conclusion
Especially patients who had a bad communication experience in a specialist consultation would like support from a patient coach. The kind of support they valued most was intervening and mediating during the consultation. To build the necessary trust, patient coaches should take time to get to know the patient and take the patient seriously. Medical knowledge, good communication skills and a strong personality were considered prerequisites for patient coaches to be capable to intervene in specialist consultations.