Visit Content Analysis: Doctor-Patient Communication in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes

Dana A Abdelgadir, Laurie M Rodriguez, Maruta A Blatchins, Pranita Mishra, Anjali Gopalan, Richard W Grant
Permanente Journal 2021, 25

INTRODUCTION: The primary care visit is an important opportunity to discuss and modify diabetes management.

OBJECTIVE: To gain insight into doctor-patient communication during primary care visits among English and Spanish speaking patients with type 2 diabetes and suboptimal glycemic control (HbA1c > 7%).

METHODS: We conducted a quantitative content analysis of audiotaped primary care visits in 2 patient cohorts. In Study 1 (31 English-speaking patients), we examined factors associated with management changes, and in Study 2 (20 Spanish-speaking patients and their Spanish-speaking providers), we examined the association of question asking with HbA1c control. This study was conducted between November 2017 and January 2020 across 8 primary care practices within Kaiser Permanente Northern California.

RESULTS: In Study 1, the only factor significantly associated with a diabetes management change was patient identification of diabetes as a priority prior to the visit (91.7% had a management change vs 52.6% of patients who did not identify diabetes as a priority; p = 0.02). In Study 2, patients with poorer glycemic control (HbA1c ≥ 10.0) asked significantly fewer questions (3.4 ± 1.8 vs 10.7 ± 6.9 questions per 15 minutes; p = 0.004). Overall, despite receiving primary care from language-concordant providers, Spanish-speaking Study 2 patients asked fewer questions than English-speaking Study 1 patients (4.5 ± 2.9 vs 7.5 ± 3.7 questions per 15 minutes, respectively; p = 0.004).

CONCLUSION: Our results highlight 2 potential strategies (preparing patients for their visits through identifying priorities and learning how to ask more questions during visits) for improving diabetes primary care.

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