Research Article: A scale assessing doctor-patient communication in a context of acute conditions based on a systematic review

Date Published: February 21, 2018

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Mélanie Sustersic, Aurélie Gauchet, Anaïs Kernou, Charlotte Gibert, Alison Foote, Céline Vermorel, Jean-Luc Bosson, Ilana Graetz.


There is no validated generic tool to measure Doctor-Patient-Communication (DPC) in a context of acute conditions.

To create and validate such a scale in a real population.

We performed a systematic review of validated DPC scales available in English. From these, using a theoretical model based on a multidisciplinary approach, we selected pertinent items that met the inclusion criteria and included them in a simple questionnaire. This tool based on a synthesis of the literature was then validated in a prospective study in two hospital emergency departments.

We found 22 pertinent questionnaires and scoring systems. From these, we extracted items and built a scale based on 15 questions with graded responses (Likert from 1 to 4). The mean time for questionnaire completion was 3 minutes. We included 189 adults and adolescents in the study and analyzed complete responses to the questionnaire by 149 patients, gathered over the phone one week after their consultation. The scale had high internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.89) and good external validity. Two questions were removed due to redundancy giving a scale based on 13 questions.

We have created an easy-to-use and validated generic questionnaire to assess DPC in a context of acute conditions, usable both in clinical research and in routine practice.

Partial Text

Nowadays, effective Doctor Patient Communication (DPC) is considered as an essential part of patient [1] as an important basic skill for doctors [2] that cannot be delegated [3]. The components of DPC have been extensively studied [4–6], especially the relationship between how well the doctor communicates with the patient and the results on the patient’s health [3,7,8]. Good communication has been shown to lead to improvements in symptom relief, clinical outcomes, patient behavior [9–10], and possibly in medication adherence [11]. The assessment of DPC has become a major field of clinical research [12–15].

This new DPC scale could open new perspectives in clinical research for assessing the impact of any tools aimed at improving DPC during a consultation for acute conditions, where patients are the first to suffer from a lack of information [28]. This tool could be valuable to the research community and enable the results of different studies to be compared, quantitate DPC and correlate its level with other outcomes such as patients’ adherence to treatment, knowledge and/or satisfaction in the particular context of acute conditions.




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