Objectives: Previous research indicates that patients have difficulty understanding ED discharge instructions; these findings have important implications for adherence and outcomes. The objective of this study was to obtain direct patient input to inform specific revisions to discharge documents created through a literacy-guided approach and to identify common themes within patient feedback that can serve as a framework for the creation of discharge documents in the future.
Methods: Based on extensive literature review and input from ED providers, subspecialists, and health literacy and communication experts, discharge instructions were created for 5 common ED diagnoses. Participants were recruited from a federally qualified health center to participate in a series of 5 focus group sessions. Demographic information was obtained and a Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM) assessment was performed. During each of the 1-hour focus group sessions, participants reviewed discharge instructions for 1 of 5 diagnoses. Participants were asked to provide input into the content, organization, and presentation of the documents. Using qualitative techniques, latent and manifest content analysis was performed to code for emergent themes across all 5 diagnoses.
Results: Fifty-seven percent of participants were female and the average age was 32 years. The average REALM score was 57.3. Through qualitative analysis, 8 emergent themes were identified from the focus groups.
Conclusions: Patient input provides meaningful guidance in the development of diagnosis-specific discharge instructions. Several themes and patterns were identified, with broad significance for the design of ED discharge instructions.
Keywords: Discharge; Discharge instructions; Emergency department; Focus groups; Literacy.
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