Background: High quality patient-clinician communication is widely advocated, but little is known about which health outcomes are associated with communication for patients with COPD.
Methods: Using a cross-sectional study of 342 veterans enrolled in a randomized controlled trial, we evaluated the association of communication, measured with the quality of communication (QOC) instrument, with subject-reported quality of clinician care, breathing problem confidence, and general self-rated health. We measured these associations using general estimating equations and adjusted odds ratios (OR) of patient-reported outcomes associated with one-point changes in QOC scores.
Results: Nearly one-half of the subjects reported receiving the best imaginable care (47%), whereas fewer reported being confident with their breathing problems all the time (29%) or in very good or excellent health (15%). General communication was associated with best-imagined quality of care (OR, 4.29; 95% CI, 2.84-6.48; P < .001) and confidence in dealing with breathing problems all the time (OR, 1.74; 95% CI, 1.34-2.25; P < .001) but not general self-rated health (OR, 1.19; 95% CI, 0.92-1.55; P = .19). Specific clinician behaviors with larger associations with higher quality care included listening, caring, and attentiveness. The associations between general communication and quality care increased over time (P for interaction .03).
Conclusions: Communication between patients and clinicians is associated with quality of care and confidence in dealing with breathing problems, and this association may change over time. Attention to specific communication strategies may lead to improvements in the care of patients with COPD.