Improving communication between healthcare providers and pulmonary arterial hypertension patients: a survey of patient preferences

Pulm Circ. 2021 May 21;11(2):20458940211015813. doi: 10.1177/20458940211015813. eCollection 2021 Apr-Jun.


Effective communication within the patient-provider relationship is a key aspect of shared decision-making and associated with several positive patient outcomes. Although previous studies suggest that patients' and providers' conceptualization of what constitutes effective communication differ, there is no available literature discussing patient preferences for communication. The objective of this study was to determine the words and phrases pulmonary arterial hypertension patients prefer to hear when discussing their disease with their physician. A total of 227 pulmonary arterial hypertension patients completed a survey that included a 20-item questionnaire specifically designed to assess patient preference for words and phrases when discussing their disease and treatment; statistically significant differences were observed across all items of the questionnaire. Patients preferred their physician ask them how they have "been feeling" (63%) rather than how they have "been doing". In addition, 96% of patients indicated that they wanted to hear that this is "… the best medicine for you" rather than this is "the best medicine". Considerably more patients (60%) indicated they want their physician to say, "We want you to have fewer symptoms" rather than "We want you to feel more normal." They also indicated they wanted the "most effective" medicine (82%) rather than the "most aggressive" medicine (7%). The results of this study suggest that pulmonary arterial hypertension patients have strong preferences for the language their providers use when discussing their disease and treatment options. Given the role that effective communication has on important health outcomes, pulmonary arterial hypertension providers need to consider these findings when communicating with patients.

Keywords: communication; patient centered; pulmonary arterial hypertension.