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Participation of chronic patients in medical consultations: patients’ perceived efficacy, barriers and interest in support.

Henselmans, I., Heijmans, M., Rademakers, J., Dulmen, S. van. Participation of chronic patients in medical consultations: patients’ perceived efficacy, barriers and interest in support. Health Expectations: 2015, 18(6), 2375-2388
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Aims
Chronic patients are increasingly expected to participate actively in medical consultations. This study examined:
(i) patients' perceived efficacy and barriers to participation in consultations,
(ii) patients' interest in communication support,
(iii) correlates of perceived efficacy and barriers, with an emphasis on differences across providers' disciplines.

Methods
A representative panel of chronic patients (n = 1314) filled out the short Perceived Efficacy in Patient-Provider Interaction scale and were questioned about barriers to participation and interest in communication support. Potential correlates included socio-demographic (age, sex, education, living situation), clinical (discipline care provider, type of illness, comorbidity, illness duration, functional disabilities, health consultations in last year) and personal characteristics (information preference, health literacy, level of general patient activation).

Results
Most patients felt efficacious in consultations, although 46% reported barriers to participation and 39% had an interest in support. Barriers most frequently recognized were ‘not wanting to be bothersome’, ‘perception there is too little time’ and ‘remembering subjects only afterwards’. Patients most frequently endorsed relatively simple support. Patients perceived the least barriers and were least likely to endorse support when seeing a nurse. In multivariate models, consistent risk factors for low efficacy and perceived barriers were low health literacy and a low general patient activation.

Conclusions
Many chronically ill patients feel confident in medical interactions. Still, a significant number might benefit from support. Often this concerned more generally vulnerable patients, that is, the low literate and generally less activated. Relatively simple supportive interventions are likely to be endorsed and might overcome frequent barriers. (aut.ref.)