T.W.W.GO1, H.T. MOK1, L.H.J.CHEW1, S.ACHARYYA1, L.X.QUEK1, E.C.HO1
Tan Tock Seng Hospital1
Communication difficulties can, and often do, create huge barriers between patients and healthcare workers (HCWs). This study aimed to examine the perceptual differences between patients, their caregivers, and HCWs with regards to their perceived communication vulnerabilities and identified needs in a tertiary hospital.
Prospective cross-sectional study of patients, caregivers and HCWs. The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems (HCAHPS) Survey was adapted for outpatient settings. Respondents rated the frequency they had encountered the described communication situations. 39 patients (mean age: 74), 25 caregivers (mean age: 75), and 30 frontline HCWs (mean age: 33) were recruited.
A total of 97.4% of patients and 95.8% of caregivers surveyed agreed for a need to improve communication addressing one or more of the identified domains, such as barriers in vision, hearing, cognition, literacy, speech impairment, and language. 53.8% of patients and 54.2% of caregivers cited poor hearing in noisy situations as their primary communication barrier. 100% of HCWs had experienced challenging communication situations with patients and identified the need for improving the quality of healthcare communication. 87% of HCWs identified that patient’s poor vision could be a barrier in communication. In contrast, patients and caregivers reported language as a potential barrier, which HCWs failed to identify.
This study demonstrated high susceptibility for HCWs to encounter challenging communication situations with their patients. Similarly, patients and caregivers have also experienced/perceived communication vulnerability and needs. The onus is on healthcare providers to bridge this communication gap in order to improve patient care.