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.
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