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Healthcare provider relational quality is associated with better self-management and less treatment burden in people with multiple chronic conditions

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      PurposeHaving multiple chronic conditions (MCCs) can lead to appreciable treatment and self-management burden. Healthcare provider relational quality (HPRQ) – the communicative and interpersonal skill of the provider – may mitigate treatment burden and promote self-management. The objectives of this study were to 1) identify the associations between HPRQ, treatment burden, and psychosocial outcomes in adults with MCCs, and 2) determine if certain indicators of HPRQ are more strongly associated than others with these outcomes.Patients and methodsThis is a cross-sectional survey study of 332 people with MCCs. Patients completed a 7-item measure of HPRQ and measures of treatment and self-management burden, chronic condition distress, self-efficacy, provider satisfaction, medication adherence, and physical and mental health. Associations between HPRQ, treatment burden, and psychosocial outcomes were determined using correlational analyses and independent samples t-tests, which were repeated in item-level analyses to explore which indicators of HPRQ were most strongly associated with the outcomes.ResultsMost respondents (69%) were diagnosed with ≥3 chronic conditions. Better HPRQ was found to be associated with less treatment and self-management burden and better psychosocial outcomes (P<0.001), even after controlling for physical and mental health. Those reporting 100% adherence to prescribed medications had higher HPRQ scores than those reporting less than perfect adherence (P<0.001). HPRQ items showing the strongest associations with outcomes were “my healthcare provider spends enough time with me”, “my healthcare provider listens carefully to me”, and “I have trust in my healthcare provider”.ConclusionGood communication and interpersonal skills of healthcare providers may lessen feelings of treatment burden and empower patients to feel confident in their self-management. Patient trust in the provider is an important element of HPRQ. Educating healthcare providers about the importance of interpersonal and relational skills could lead to more patient-centered care.

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        Physician communication and patient adherence to treatment: a meta-analysis.

        Numerous empirical studies from various populations and settings link patient treatment adherence to physician-patient communication. Meta-analysis allows estimates of the overall effects both in correlational research and in experimental interventions involving the training of physicians' communication skills. Calculation and analysis of "r effect sizes" and moderators of the relationship between physician's communication and patient adherence, and the effects of communication training on adherence to treatment regimens for varying medical conditions. Thorough search of published literature (1949-August 2008) producing separate effects from 106 correlational studies and 21 experimental interventions. Determination of random effects model statistics and the detailed examination of study variability using moderator analyses. Physician communication is significantly positively correlated with patient adherence; there is a 19% higher risk of non-adherence among patients whose physician communicates poorly than among patients whose physician communicates well. Training physicians in communication skills results in substantial and significant improvements in patient adherence such that with physician communication training, the odds of patient adherence are 1.62 times higher than when a physician receives no training. Communication in medical care is highly correlated with better patient adherence, and training physicians to communicate better enhances their patients' adherence. Findings can contribute to medical education and to interventions to improve adherence, supporting arguments that communication is important and resources devoted to improving it are worth investing in. Communication is thus an important factor over which physicians have some control in helping their patients to adhere.
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          How does communication heal? Pathways linking clinician-patient communication to health outcomes.

          Although prior research indicates that features of clinician-patient communication can predict health outcomes weeks and months after the consultation, the mechanisms accounting for these findings are poorly understood. While talk itself can be therapeutic (e.g., lessening the patient's anxiety, providing comfort), more often clinician-patient communication influences health outcomes via a more indirect route. Proximal outcomes of the interaction include patient understanding, trust, and clinician-patient agreement. These affect intermediate outcomes (e.g., increased adherence, better self-care skills) which, in turn, affect health and well-being. Seven pathways through which communication can lead to better health include increased access to care, greater patient knowledge and shared understanding, higher quality medical decisions, enhanced therapeutic alliances, increased social support, patient agency and empowerment, and better management of emotions. Future research should hypothesize pathways connecting communication to health outcomes and select measures specific to that pathway. Clinicians and patients should maximize the therapeutic effects of communication by explicitly orienting communication to achieve intermediate outcomes (e.g., trust, mutual understanding, adherence, social support, self-efficacy) associated with improved health.

            Author and article information

            [1 ]Department of Health Sciences Research
            [2 ]Robert D and Patricia E Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
            [3 ]Division of General Internal Medicine, Hennepin County Medical Center
            [4 ]Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation
            [5 ]Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN
            [6 ]Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, VA, USA
            Author notes
            Correspondence: David T Eton, Division of Health Care Policy & Research, Department of Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street Southwest, Rochester, MN 55905, USA, Tel +1 507 293 1353, Fax +1 507 284 1731, Email eton.david@
            Patient Prefer Adherence
            Patient Prefer Adherence
            Patient Preference and Adherence
            Patient preference and adherence
            Dove Medical Press
            26 September 2017
            : 11
            : 1635-1646
            © 2017 Eton et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

            The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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