‘Trust and Questioning Study’ could lead to better outcomes for patients

29 January 2019

Offering patients both general and very specific details about their condition and diagnoses after admission, could lead to better understanding and a more positive outcome, a study conducted at Heartlands Hospital has found.

Senior Research Nurse, Faye Moore, led the recruitment for the ‘Trust and Questioning Study,’ which she said also proved to be a great example of research teams working well with clinical areas. The research was sponsored by the University of Warwick, where it was led by Dr Zoe Fritz and Anne-Marie Slowther and also received funding from the Wellcome Trust. Patients were recruited from Heartlands and one other NHS Trust.

Faye and nurse colleagues, Linda Webber and Cheryl Davis, worked closely with the staff in  Heartlands’ discharge lounge, who allowed them daily access to the area to approach and talk to patients waiting to leave.

Faye explained: “We carried out a questionnaire survey of patients admitted to an acute medical unit, with the aim of understanding the potential impact of sharing part or all of a medical record.

“With a target of approaching at least 150 patients, we contacted the unit and discussed the study with them. They agreed for research nurses to be in the discharge lounge and approach patients who were waiting to go home. Eventually we recruited 161 patients to the study.”

Commenting on the cooperation of staff, and willingness of patients to talk, Faye said: “The study has concluded that only providing verbal information to patients during their admission does not empower them to be engaged in their care. The questionnaire revealed that many of the patients were not aware of their diagnosis at discharge.

“This suggests that providing both generic information about what happens in hospital and a patient-specific summary record, may help to address this, and should be explored further.

“The provision of real-time access to medical records, though could lead to unintended effects and if this is used, then further studies should look at the impact upon patient experience, medical documentation and patient care.”

The findings of the study have now been submitted for publication and are currently being peer reviewed. Approval has also been obtained for the next stage of the research, a trial which will provide patients with more information at certain points to see if this leads to more engagement.