Importance: Patients with stable coronary artery disease (CAD) attribute greater benefit to percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI) than indicated in clinical trials. Little is known about how cardiologists' presentation of the benefits and risks may influence patients' perceptions.
Objectives: To broadly describe the content of discussions between patients and cardiologists regarding angiogram and PCI for stable CAD, and to describe elements that may affect patients' understanding.
Design, setting, and participants: Qualitative content analysis of encounters between cardiologists and patients with stable CAD who participated in the Verilogue Point-of-Practice Database between March 1, 2008, and August 31, 2012. Transcripts in which angiogram and PCI were discussed were retrieved from the database. Patients were aged 44 to 88 years (median, 64 years); 25% were women; 50% reported symptoms of angina; and 6% were taking more than 1 medication to treat angina.
Main outcomes and measures: Results of conventional and directed qualitative content analysis.
Results: Forty encounters were analyzed. Five major categories and subcategories of factors that may affect patients' understanding of benefit were identified: (1) rationale for recommending angiogram and PCI (eg, stress test results, symptoms, and cardiologist's preferences); (2) discussion of benefits (eg, accurate discussion of benefit [5%], explicitly overstated benefit [13%], and implicitly overstated benefit [35%]); (3) discussion of risks (eg, minimization of risk); (4) cardiologist's communication style (eg, humor, teach-back, message framing, and failure to respond to patient questions); and (5) patient and family member contributions to the discussion.
Conclusions and relevance: Few cardiologists discussed the evidence-based benefits of angiogram and PCI for stable CAD, and some implicitly or explicitly overstated the benefits. The etiology of patient misunderstanding is likely multifactorial, but if future quantitative studies support the findings of this hypothesis-generating analysis, modifications to cardiologists' approach to describing the risks and benefits of the procedure may improve patient understanding.