Background: Visit preparation interventions help patients prepare to meet with a medical provider. Systematic reviews have found some positive effects, but there are no reports describing implementation experiences. Consultation Planning (CP) is a visit preparation technique in which a trained coach or facilitator elicits and documents patient questions for an upcoming medical appointment. We integrated CP into a university breast cancer clinic beginning in 1998. Representatives of other organizations expressed interest in CP, so we invited them to training workshops in 2000, 2001, and 2002.
Objectives: In order to learn from experience and generate hypotheses, we asked: 1) How many trainees implemented CP? 2) What facilitated implementation? 3) How have trainees, patients, physicians, and administrative leaders of implementing organizations reacted to CP? 4) What were the barriers to implementation?
Methods: We attempted to contact 32 trainees and scheduled follow-up, semi-structured, audio-recorded telephone interviews with 18. We analyzed quantitative data by tabulating frequencies and qualitative data by coding transcripts and identifying themes.
Results: Trainees came from two different types of organizations, clinics (which provide medical care) versus resource centers (which provide patient support services but not medical care). We found that: 1) Fourteen of 21 respondents, from five of eight resource centers, implemented CP. Four of the five implementing resource centers were rural. 2) Implementers identified the championing of CP by an internal staff member as a critical success factor. 3) Implementers reported that modified CP has been productive. 4) Four respondents, from two resource centers and two clinics, did not implement CP, reporting resource limitations or conflicting priorities as the critical barriers.
Conclusion: CP training workshops have been associated with subsequent CP implementations at resource centers but not clinics. We hypothesize that CP workshops combined with an internal champion and adequate program resources may be sufficient for some patient support organizations to implement CP.