Objective: To describe the range and effectiveness of intervention strategies designed to enhance patient participation in the consultation process.
Methods: A systematic review of published literature (1976-2004) was undertaken. Controlled trials in English were included. Data regarding study design, intervention characteristics, patient populations and study results were extracted.
Results: One hundred and forty-six articles describing 137 trials were reviewed. A pragmatic categorisation of intervention strategies and study outcomes supported data synthesis. Patient-targeted coaching and educational materials, and provider-targeted communication skills training have a substantial impact on communication. Information feedback to providers from patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) benefits provider diagnosis and management of patient conditions. Communication and provider diagnosis and management benefit most from the reviewed interventions. Although patient satisfaction and health status were two of the most frequently measured outcomes, overall, the interventions appeared to have less impact on patient self-efficacy, attitudes and behaviours, patient satisfaction, health status and resource use.
Conclusion: Evidence is insufficient to strongly advocate one approach to enhancing patient participation in the consultation process. More rigorous research design with clearly specified intervention strategies and appropriately defined outcomes assessed over both the short and long term is required.
Practice implications: Although limited and inconclusive, the most extensive and most encouraging evidence to enhance patient participation in the consultation process is available for three patient-targeted intervention strategies (coaching, educational materials and PROMs feedback to providers) and one provider-targeted intervention strategy (communication skills training).