Accurate patient expectations are important to optimise treatment success, especially for complex conditions such as chronic pain. Communication may be the key to managing patient expectations. This study aimed to explore whether health care provider communication influences patient expectations and which communication aspects are most important.
We conducted secondary analyses on data that had been collected between September and November 2012. 2603 patients suffering from chronic pain were invited to complete a survey.
Although 69.9% of patients achieved or surpassed their treatment goal, 30.2% of patients were unsatisfied. Even though overall health care provider communication and shared decision making were unrelated to patient expectations, several affective communication aspects were related. These aspects were attentive listening, taking enough time, building patient’s trust in the physician’s competence and giving patients the feeling that the physician is doing all he or she can ( p’s < 0.05).
Even though treatment goals are not always explicitly discussed, patients still form expectations regarding treatment outcomes. Affective communication may be more important for managing patient expectations than sharing information. Building a good therapeutic relationship by showing affective communication may be important to increase the accuracy of patient expectations.