Barium enemas : the patients' perspective : are we satisfying their psychological needs?
Quality of patient care has received much publicity with patients becoming more informed about their rights in the hospital. Consequently they are making greater healthcare demands. Increasing consideration needs to be taken of the quality of care given to the patients, and of their feelings about the services provided. The research investigates patients experiences of barium enemas, with the aim of gaining a holistic view of the examination, and addresses the area of patient information in this context. The underlying purpose of the research is to employ professional knowledge to address the psychological needs of patients. The research has tracked the patient's experience and perception of the barium enema examination throughout its whole process. This involved three main phases using both qualitative and quantitative methods, each focusing on patient care and satisfaction. Using interviews it was established that patients attending for barium enema were anxious. Following this the relationship between information and anxiety was addressed using a computer assisted learning package and a specially designed information leaflet. It was found that patients who had received the information leaflet had statistically significant reduced levels of anxiety. Furthermore, patients receiving the leaflet had a stronger feeling of having sufficient information than those who received only the standard hospital information. Giving the patient information relating to the procedures and likely sensations has been shown to reduce their anxiety level. The computer package showed potential for knowledge gain and usability. Implications of the results are in the area of professionalism, role development and standards for care of the patient in the diagnostic imaging department. Clinical implications are at a patient management level, with attention to continuity of care. It is suggested that high quality patient care and increased patient satisfaction can result when a more holistic and patient centred approach is adopted by radiographers.