Patient perspectives on communication with the medical team: pilot study using the Communication Assessment Tool-Team (CAT-T)

Department of Emergency Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.
Patient Education and Counseling (Impact Factor: 2.2). 08/2008; 73(2):220-3. DOI: 10.1016/j.pec.2008.07.003
Source: PubMed


Effective communication is an essential aspect of high-quality patient care and a core competency for physicians. To date, assessment of communication skills in team-based settings has not been well established. We sought to tailor a psychometrically validated instrument, the Communication Assessment Tool, for use in Team settings (CAT-T), and test the feasibility of collecting patient perspectives of communication with medical teams in the emergency department (ED).
A prospective, cross-sectional study in an academic, tertiary, urban, Level 1 trauma center using the CAT-T, a 15-item instrument. Items were answered via a 5-point scale, with 5 = excellent. All adult ED patients (> or = 18 y/o) were eligible if the following exclusion criteria did not apply: primary psychiatric issues, critically ill, physiologically unstable, non-English speaking, or under arrest.
81 patients were enrolled (mean age: 44, S.D. = 17; 44% male). Highest ratings were for treating the patient with respect (69% excellent), paying attention to the patient (69% excellent), and showing care and concern (69% excellent). Lowest ratings were for greeting the patient appropriately (54%), encouraging the patient to ask questions (54%), showing interest in the patient's ideas about his or her health (53% excellent), and involving the patient in decisions as much as he or she wanted (53% excellent).
Although this pilot study has several methodological limitations, it demonstrates a signal that patient assessment of communication with the medical team is feasible and offers important feedback. Results indicate the need to improve communication in the ED.
In the ED, focusing on the medical team rather then individual caregivers may more accurately reflect patients' experience.

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