Background: Patient safety is a key target in public health, health services and medicine. Communication between all parties involved in gynecology and obstetrics (clinical staff/professionals, expectant mothers/patients and their partners, close relatives or friends providing social support) should be improved to ensure patient safety, including the avoidance of preventable adverse events (pAEs). Therefore, interventions including an app will be developed in this project through a participatory approach integrating two theoretical models. The interventions will be designed to support participants in their communication with each other and to overcome difficulties in everyday hospital life. The aim is to foster effective communication in order to reduce the frequency of pAEs. If communication is improved, clinical staff should show an increase in work satisfaction and patients should show an increase in patient satisfaction.
Methods: The study will take place in two maternity clinics in Germany. In line with previous studies of complex interventions, it is divided into three interdependent phases. Each phase provides its own methods and data. Phase 1: Needs assessment and a training for staff (n = 140) tested in a pre-experimental study with a pre/post-design. Phase 2: Assessment of communication training for patients and their social support providers (n = 423) in a randomized controlled study. Phase 3: Assessment of an app supporting the communication between staff, patients, and their social support providers (n = 423) in a case-control study. The primary outcome is improvement of communication competencies. A range of other implementation outcomes will also be assessed (i.e. pAEs, patient/treatment satisfaction, work satisfaction, safety culture, training-related outcomes).
Discussion: This is the first large intervention study on communication and patient safety in gynecology and obstetrics integrating two theoretical models that have not been applied to this setting. It is expected that the interventions, including the app, will improve communication practice which is linked to a lower probability of pAEs. The app will offer an effective and inexpensive way to promote effective communication independent of users' motivation. Insights gained from this study can inform other patient safety interventions and health policy developments.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03855735; date of registration: February 27, 2019.
Keywords: App; Communication competences; Digitization; HAPA; Health services research; Midwifery models of care; Participatory intervention development; Patient safety; Preventable adverse events; eHealth.