Patients' preferences for patient-centered communication: a survey from an outpatient department in rural Sierra Leone

Patient Educ Couns. 2013 Nov;93(2):312-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2013.06.025. Epub 2013 Jul 29.


Objectives: To investigate patients' preferences for patient-centered communication (PCC) in the encounter with healthcare professionals in an outpatient department in rural Sierra Leone.

Methods: A survey was conducted using an adapted version of the Patient-Practitioner Orientation Scale (PPOS) as a structured interview guide. The study population was drawn from the population of all adults attending for treatment or treatment for their children.

Results: 144 patients were included in the analysis. Factors, such as doctor's friendly approach, the interpersonal relationship and information-sharing were all scored high (patient-centered) on the PPOS. Factors associated with shared-decision making had a lower (doctor-centered) score. A high educational level was associated with a more patient-centered scoring, an association that was most pronounced in the female population.

Conclusion: The results provide an insight into the patients' preferences for PCC. Patients expressed a patient-centered attitude toward certain areas of PCC, while other areas were less expressed. More research is needed in order to fully qualify the applicability of PCC in resource-poor settings.

Practice implications: Stakeholders and healthcare professionals should aim to strengthen healthcare practice by focusing on PCC in the medical encounter while taking into considerations the patients' awareness and preferences for PCC.

Keywords: Africa; Patient-centered communication; Patient-provider communication; Primary healthcare; Sierra Leone.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child Health Services / standards*
  • Communication*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital / standards*
  • Patient Preference*
  • Patient-Centered Care / standards*
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Rural Population
  • Sierra Leone
  • Surveys and Questionnaires