Perceptions of quality of communication in family interactions in neurocritical care.

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Health Science Reports


Objective: Given the challenges of patient-provider communication in neurocritical care lacking robust decision-making tools on prognostication, we investigated concordance in perceptions of communication among participants in family discussions and assess the different domains of communication that affect these perceptions.

Methods: Prospective observational study conducted over 4 months in a tertiary-level academic medical center neurocritical care unit. Our study involved family discussions regarding plan of care for admitted patients observed by a neutral observer. All participants completed a survey. The first four questions rated the understanding of the discussion and general satisfaction; the remaining questions were open-ended to assess the quality of communication by the physician leading the discussion. Responses were scored and compared among participants using a Likert scale. A difference of < 1 in scores among participants was rated as concordance, whereas that of > 1 was designated as discordance. All open-ended responses were classified into six domains.

Results: We observed 35 family discussions. Questions 1 to 3 inquiring on general satisfaction, impact, and understanding of treatment options yielded 99 cross-comparisons per question (297 compared responses). Most responses were either "Strongly Agree" or "Agree," with "Neutral" or "Disagree" responses being more prevalent in Question 2 regarding the impact of the conversation. Overall concordance of responses between participants was 88% with a lower rate of concordance (72%) on Q2. Further open-ended questions queried observers on specific physician-spoken content, and answers were analyzed to identify domains that affected the perception of quality of communication. Education was the most frequently cited domain of communication in response to open-ended questions. Among family and neutral observers, empathy was frequently listed, whereas providers more often listed family engagement.

Conclusion: Overall, satisfaction was high among providers, families, and the observer regarding the quality of communication during family discussions in the unit. Perceptual differences emerged over whether this communication impacted healthcare decision-making during that encounter.





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