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Title: An action research study to investigate the strategies that can be used by health care professionals, during video consultations with palliative care patients, to enhance the therapeutic alliance
Author: Reid, Noreen
ISNI:       0000 0004 7425 2681
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2017
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Background: The use of telemedicine was gaining momentum. Although the strength of the therapeutic alliance (TA) correlated with treatment outcomes, there was no research exploring the skills, attitudes and behaviours that enhanced the TA during Skype consultations in palliative care. Aims: This study identified the skills, attitudes and behaviours that affected the TA between palliative care patients and health care professionals during Skype consultations and identified strategies that enhanced the TA. Study Design: Two cycles of action research engaged the participants in self-reflective inquiry and encouraged the identification of strategies that enhanced the TA and the Skype experience. Participants: Six health professionals and nine patients were recruited from a Hospice out patient service in one Health Authority in England. Data Collection: Data from the audio-recorded consultation were managed quantitatively and the TA was measured using the Working Alliance Inventory (S). Qualitative data were collected from participant interviews and focus groups attended by the professionals. Data Analysis: The analysis ran in parallel with the data collection, started after the first consultation and all sources of data were cross-referenced. Thematic analysis was used to sequentially code the qualitative data to help identify, examine and record patterns within the data set. Findings: The findings suggested that it was possible to establish and a positive therapeutic alliance between health professionals and palliative care patients when using Skype. There was a shift in perception for those health professionals who had reservations about their ability to establish a therapeutic alliance (TA) via a computer link. It was demonstrated that advanced communication skills were transferrable between face to face and video consultations. No additional communication skills training was needed to enable a strong TA when using Skype. Including some social talk, working with the patient’s as opposed to the professional’s agenda and actively offering solutions improved the Skype experience for the patients. The strategies that health professionals promoted to enhance the TA included using Skype with appropriately selected patients to complement the existing Service. Mandatory training in the effective use of Skype was recommended even for those health professionals who used Skype socially. Clarification to address the challenge of clinical governance was recommended. In keeping with an action research design the change impacted on both the health professionals own practice and the Organisation’s approach to telemedicine. The potential for using action research to engage nurses and doctors in critical self-reflective inquiry and to empower them to be change facilitators was demonstrated. Conclusion: Although a small sample size, this study identified strategies that enhanced the TA during Skype consultations. The findings were significant because they added to the current body of knowledge about using Skype to facilitate consultations within the palliative care population. Additionally, the findings may be transferable to different populations and healthcare contexts.
Supervisor: Bugge, Carol ; Smith, Annetta Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Nurs.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: palliative care ; therapeutic alliance ; Palliative treatment ; Telecommunication in medicine ; Virtual reality therapy