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Title: The relationship between empathy and Self-Management Support in general practice consultations in areas of high and low socio-economic deprivation
Author: Mullen, J.-M.
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2013
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Abstract:
Aim: Empathy is widely regarded as an important attribute of healthcare professionals, and has been linked to higher patient satisfaction, enablement, and some health outcomes. The ‘mechanism of action’ of clinical empathy is not well understood. An ‘effect model’ of empathic communication in the clinical encounter has been proposed by Neumann et al (2009). In this model, clinician empathy is seen as having a positive effect in encouraging patients to tell more about their symptoms and concerns (for example, by picking up on emotional cues and responding in an encouraging way). This can result in ‘affective-oriented effects’ (such as the patient feeling listened to and understood) or ‘cognitive/action-oriented effects’ which include the clinician collecting more detailed information (medical and psychosocial), gaining a more accurate perception of the problem (and possible diagnosis) and enhanced understanding and responses to the patients’ individual needs. Such responses may include Self-Management Support of various kinds, which help enable the patients to better manage their condition(s), leading to improved outcomes. Recent Government policy in Scotland has focused on Self-Management Support and Anticipatory Care as key priorities in primary care, in response to the rise in chronic disease and health inequalities. However, the amount and type of Self-Management Support and Anticipatory Care that occurs in routine consultations in primary care is not known, nor their relationship with empathy and patient enablement. Thus the ‘effect model’ of empathy as proposed by Neumann, which postulates a relationship between empathy, Self-Management Support, and outcomes in the consultation remains largely theoretical. The aim of this thesis was to examine the relationships between patients’ perceptions of doctors’ empathy, patient enablement, health outcomes and the amount and the type of Self-Management Support (including Anticipatory Care) in general practice consultations. Due to the wide health inequalities that exist in Scotland, and the continuing operation of the ‘inverse care law’, a comparison was made between consultations in areas of high or low socio-economic deprivation to establish whether the relationships varied by deprivation. The thesis had the following research objectives; • To assess the nature, type and frequency of Self-Management Support (including Anticipatory Care) in general practice consultations in high and low deprivation groups • To determine whether patients’ perceptions of GP empathy is related to Self-Management Support (including Anticipatory Care) in consultations in high and low deprivation groups • To explore the effects of Self-Management Support (including Anticipatory Care) on patient enablement and health outcomes in high and low deprivation groups • To assess patients’ perception of empathy in terms of the nature, type, and frequency of emotional Cues and responses by GPs rated as high or low in empathy by their patients in consultations in high and low deprivation groups Methods: The research objectives were investigated by a secondary analysis of data collected between 2006-2008 by Mercer and colleagues in the Section of General Practice and Primary Care at the University of Glasgow. These data were collected as part of a research project in general practice in areas of high and low deprivation funded by the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government. The research produced database, includes 659 videoed baseline consultations, with patient rated experience measures, including the Consultation and Relational Empathy (CARE) Measure, the Patient Enablement Instrument (PEI) and outcomes (self-reported symptom change and well-being) at 1 month post-consultation available on 499 patients. An observer-rated method of assessing Self-Management Support and Anticipatory Care was sought from the literature to answer objectives 1-3. However, there were a lack of validated observer-rated tools available that were specifically designed to measure these constructs. As such, the Davis Observation Code was identified as a validated system of coding primary care consultations across a broad range of consultation components which included items deemed to relate to Self-Management Support and Anticipatory Care. The process of selecting the Davis coding system, and the rejection of alternative coding systems is discussed in detail in Chapter 5. The Davis coding system was also considered feasible given the large size of the database. Self-Management Support and Anticipatory Care were then measured by using combinations of seven codes deemed relevant to Self-Management Support within the consultation setting. Four additional codes were added to the Davis system, in order to include tasks relevant to UK general practice consultations. These additional codes were not part of Self-Management Support or Anticipatory Care but were added to achieve a complete coding system of activities within the consultations. The Verona coding system measured emotional cues, concerns and health provider responses that were observed within the consultations. As such, this system was used to answer objective 4. The choice of this system reflected a desire to use an observer-rated measure to help ‘validate’ the patient-rated empathy measure (the CARE Measure) in terms of the first part of the Neumann et al (2009) model, i.e. eliciting concerns and symptoms, separate from the cognitive/action oriented effects relating to Self-Management Support. Results: Reliability of the objective coding systems Preliminary work was carried out on both coding systems in order to establish reliability in the application of the codes. This was a lengthy process, involving several cycles of coding by two coders (the author and one of her supervisors) but resulted in acceptably high levels of inter-rater reliability (kappa > 0.7 for the Davis coding system, and > 0.9 for the Verona coding system). Objective 1: The nature, type and frequency of Self-Management Support (including Anticipatory Care) in general practice consultations in high and low deprivation groups In both the high and low deprivation groups, time was predominantly allocated to gaining information about the patient’s complaint, conducting physical examinations and planning treatment. There was no difference observed in the amount of Self-Management Support overall in the consultations between high and low deprivation areas. However, there were significant differences in the nature, type and frequency of certain aspects of Self-Management Support, with significantly more Anticipatory Care in the consultations in the high deprivation areas. The results also showed that patients in the high deprivation group tended to experience a more direct biomedical focused consultation that featured practical tasks such as physical examinations and discussion of substance misuse. In the low deprivation group, a biopsychosocial approach was more common, which involved more time spent within the consultation discussing treatment effects, compliance or discussing how previous interventions had impacted on the patient’s health. For both groups, little time was allocated to gathering family information or counselling, answering patient questions or discussing health knowledge. Objective 2: Patients’ perception of GP empathy and relationship with Self-Management Support (including Anticipatory Care) in consultations in high and low deprivation areas. The relationship between empathy and Self-Management Support was explored using the Consultation and Relational Empathy Measure (CARE) and the Davis observation code respectively. Potential confounding variables were taken into account. Patients' perceptions of their GP's empathy were significantly associated with Self-Management Support in the low deprivation group, but not the high deprivation group.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.578588  DOI: Not available
Keywords: RA Public aspects of medicine ; RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
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