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1.  Concerns voiced by patients and GPs’ responses during psychosocial visits in primary care: a historical cross-sectional study 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:188.
In a recent study comparing psychosocial consultations prior to and after the implementation of national clinical guidelines in the Netherlands, we found that general practitioners (GPs) showed less empathy in the more recent consultations. As a consequence, patients possibly have less scope to express their worries. The objective is to investigate whether patients have become more reluctant to open up about their concerns during psychosocial consultations and how GPs respond.
Consultations from previous study samples videotaped between 1977 and 2008 and categorized by GPs as ‘completely psychosocial’ were selected for the present study. These consultations were observed using the Verona Coding Definitions of Emotional Sequences (VR-CoDES) to capture cues and concerns expressed by patients and GPs’ immediate responses. We compared consultations prior to (N = 121) and after (N = 391) introduction of national clinical guidelines in the 1990s.
In 92% of the consultations, patients presented at least one worry. These were most often expressed implicitly. However, the proportion of consultations containing at least one explicit concern changed from 24% to 37% over time. The increased number of expressed cues and concerns was partly explained by a change in GP characteristics; the latter sample contained more female and more experienced GPs. Furthermore, cues and concerns were more often expressed during later phases of consultations in recent years.
Our study shows that patients have become somewhat more explicit in expressing their worries. However, GPs need to be aware that, still, most worries are expressed implicitly and that new concerns may appear towards the end of consultations.
PMCID: PMC4247880  PMID: 25421612
Doctor-patient relations; General practice; Cues; Empathy; Psychosocial factors
2.  Explaining variation in Down’s syndrome screening uptake: comparing the Netherlands with England and Denmark using documentary analysis and expert stakeholder interviews 
The offer of prenatal Down’s syndrome screening is part of routine antenatal care in most of Europe; however screening uptake varies significantly across countries. Although a decision to accept or reject screening is a personal choice, it is unlikely that the widely differing uptake rates across countries can be explained by variation in individual values alone.
The aim of this study was to compare Down’s syndrome screening policies and programmes in the Netherlands, where uptake is relatively low (<30%) with England and Denmark where uptake is higher (74 and > 90% respectively), in an attempt to explain the observed variation in national uptake rates.
We used a mixed methods approach with an embedded design: a) documentary analysis and b) expert stakeholder analysis. National central statistical offices and legal documents were studied first to gain insight in demographic characteristics, cultural background, organization and structure of healthcare followed by documentary analysis of primary and secondary sources on relevant documents on DSS policies and programme. To enhance interpretation of these findings we performed in-depth interviews with relevant expert stakeholders.
There were many similarities in the demographics, healthcare systems, government abortion legislation and Down’s syndrome screening policy across the studied countries. However, the additional cost for Down’s syndrome screening over and above standard antenatal care in the Netherlands and an emphasis on the ‘right not to know’ about screening in this country were identified as potential explanations for the ‘low’ uptake rates of Down’s syndrome screening in the Netherlands. The social context and positive framing of the offer at the service delivery level may play a role in the relatively high uptake rates in Denmark.
This paper makes an important contribution to understanding how macro-level demographic, social and healthcare delivery factors may have an impact on national uptake rates for Down’s syndrome screening. It has suggested a number of policy level and system characteristics that may go some way to explaining the relatively low uptake rates of Down’s syndrome screening in the Netherlands when compared to England and Denmark.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-437) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4263059  PMID: 25257793
Down’s syndrome; Antenatal screening; Utilization of healthcare; Uptake; International comparison
4.  Effects of improved patient participation in primary care on health-related outcomes: a systematic review 
Family Practice  2013;30(4):365-378.
In primary care, many consultations address symptom-based complaints. Recovery from these complaints seldom exceeds placebo effects. Patient participation, because of its supposed effects on trust and patient expectancies, is assumed to benefit patients’ recovery. While the idea is theoretically promising, it is still unclear what the effects of increased patient participation are on patient outcomes.
To review the effects of controlled intervention studies aiming to improve patient participation in face-to-face primary care consultations on patient-oriented and/or disease-oriented outcomes.
This study is a systematic review. A systematic search was undertaken for randomized controlled trials designed to measure the effects of interventions that aimed to improve adult patients’ participation in primary care visits. The CINAHL, Cochrane, EMBASE, PsycINFO and PubMed databases were searched.
Seven different trials fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Three of the studies were related to symptom-based complaints. Five studies measured patient-oriented outcomes, the primary outcome of interest for this review. All studies suffered from substantial bias. Studies varied widely in their aims, types of complaints/diseases, strength of the interventions and their outcomes. The effects on patient-oriented outcomes and disease-oriented outcomes were ambiguous.
Little research has been performed on health outcomes of interventions aiming to increase patient participation in general practice visits among patients suffering from symptom-based complaints. The results still are non-conclusive. The quality of the trials has been weak, possibly due to the complexity of the concept. This weak quality may explain the lack of conclusive results. Proposals for future research designs are offered.
PMCID: PMC3722509  PMID: 23629738
Patient participation; patient-oriented outcomes; primary health care; shared decision-making; review (publication type).
6.  Patients’ views on changes in doctor-patient communication between 1982 and 2001: a mixed-methods study 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:80.
Doctor-patient communication has been influenced over time by factors such as the rise of evidence-based medicine and a growing emphasis on patient-centred care. Despite disputes in the literature on the tension between evidence-based medicine and patient-centered medicine, patients’ views on what constitutes high quality of doctor-patient communication are seldom an explicit topic for research. The aim of this study is to examine whether analogue patients (lay people judging videotaped consultations) perceive shifts in the quality of doctor-patient communication over a twenty-year period.
Analogue patients (N = 108) assessed 189 videotaped general practice consultations from two periods (1982–1984 and 2000–2001). They provided ratings on three dimensions (scale 1–10) and gave written feedback. With a mixed-methods research design, we examined these assessments quantitatively (in relation to observed communication coded with RIAS) and qualitatively.
1) The quantitative analyses showed that biomedical communication and rapport building were positively associated with the quality assessments of videotaped consultations from the first period, but not from the second. Psychosocial communication and personal remarks were related to positive quality assessments of both periods; 2) the qualitative analyses showed that in both periods, participants provided the same balance between positive and negative comments. Listening, giving support, and showing respect were considered equally important in both periods. We identified shifts in the participants’ observations on how GPs explained things to the patient, the division of roles and responsibilities, and the emphasis on problem-focused communication (first period) versus solution-focused communication (last period).
Analogue patients recognize shifts in the quality of doctor-patient communication from two different periods, including a shift from problem-focused communication to solution-focused communication, and they value an egalitarian doctor-patient relationship. The two research methods were complementary; based on the quantitative analyses we found shifts in communication, which we confirmed and specified in our qualitative analyses.
PMCID: PMC3460773  PMID: 22873783
Quality of care; Doctor-patient communication; Analogue patients; General practice; Video observation; Mixed-methods design
7.  The Validity of Using Analogue Patients in Practitioner–Patient Communication Research: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
Journal of General Internal Medicine  2012;27(11):1528-1543.
When studying the patient perspective on communication, some studies rely on analogue patients (patients and healthy subjects) who rate videotaped medical consultations while putting themselves in the shoes of the video-patient. To describe the rationales, methodology, and outcomes of studies using video-vignette designs in which videotaped medical consultations are watched and judged by analogue patients. Pubmed, Embase, Psychinfo and CINAHL databases were systematically searched up to February 2012. Data was extracted on: study characteristics and quality, design, rationales, internal and external validity, limitations and analogue patients’ perceptions of studied communication. A meta-analysis was conducted on the distribution of analogue patients’ evaluations of communication. Thirty-four studies were included, comprising both scripted and clinical studies, of average-to-superior quality. Studies provided unspecific, ethical as well as methodological rationales for conducting video-vignette studies with analogue patients. Scripted studies provided the most specific methodological rationales and tried the most to increase and test internal validity (e.g. by performing manipulation checks) and external validity (e.g. by determining identification with video-patient). Analogue patients’ perceptions of communication largely overlap with clinical patients’ perceptions. The meta-analysis revealed that analogue patients’ evaluations of practitioners’ communication are not subject to ceiling effects. Analogue patients’ evaluations of communication equaled clinical patients’ perceptions, while overcoming ceiling effects. This implies that analogue patients can be included as proxies for clinical patients in studies on communication, taken some described precautions into account. Insights from this review may ease decisions about including analogue patients in video-vignette studies, improve the quality of these studies and increase knowledge on communication from the patient perspective.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11606-012-2111-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3475831  PMID: 22700392
communication; patient preferences; research design; doctor–patient relationships; systematic reviews
8.  Effects of a pre-visit educational website on information recall and needs fulfilment in breast cancer genetic counselling, a randomized controlled trial 
Pre-visit education which helps counselees to prepare for their first visit for breast cancer genetic counseling might enhance information recall and needs fulfilment. This study assessed the effects of a pre-visit website with tailored information and question prompt sheet (QPS), named E-info geneca.
A total of 197 counselees were randomized to receive usual care (UC) or UC plus E-info geneca. All counselees completed a pre- and post-visit questionnaire and visits were videotaped. We studied effects on counselees' information recall, knowledge about breast cancer and heredity, fulfillment of needs, risk perception alignment, anxiety and perceived personal control, using multilevel regression analyses.
Intent-to-treat analysis showed that counselees in the intervention group (n = 103) had higher levels of recall of information from the consultation (β = .32; confidence interval (CI): .04 to .60; P = .02; d = .17) and post-visit knowledge of breast cancer and heredity (β = .30; CI: .03 to .57; P = .03) than counselees in the UC group (n = 94). Also, intervention group counselees reported better fulfilment of information needs (β = .31; CI: .03 to .60; P = .03). The effects of the intervention were strongest for those counselees who did not receive an indication for DNA testing. Their recall scores showed a larger increase (β = .95; CI: .32 to 1.59; P = .003; d = .30) and their anxiety levels dropped more in the intervention compared to the UC group (β = -.60; CI: -1.12 to -.09; P = .02). No intervention effects were found after the first visit on risk perception alignment or perceived personal control.
This study shows that pre-counseling education, using tailored information technology, leads to more effective first visits for breast cancer genetic counseling, in particular for counselees who received no indication for DNA testing and, therefore, had no indication for a second visit. Future study should focus on the effects of a pre-visit website on the outcomes after a complete series of visits.
Trial registration
Dutch Trial Register ISRCTN82643064.
PMCID: PMC3446371  PMID: 22394647
9.  Breast cancer genetic counselling referrals: how comparable are the findings between the UK and the Netherlands? 
Journal of Community Genetics  2011;2(4):233-247.
Counselees from different countries may differ in demographic and medical characteristics and this could affect their pre-counselling cognitions and psychosocial variables. Research outcomes may therefore not be easily transferable between countries. To examine this, a cross-national comparison of UK (West Midlands: WM) and Dutch (Middle Netherlands: MN) counselees in breast cancer genetic counselling was conducted. Two hundred thirty-eight WM and 156 MN proband counselees were compared on demographics, breast cancer history and referral pathways. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to check whether national differences in knowledge of breast cancer and heredity, risk perception, worry and information needs persisted when corrected for the background characteristics. About half of the Dutch compared to 8% of UK counselees were affected by breast cancer. More UK than Dutch counselees were at high risk from hereditary breast cancer. UK counselees had higher risk perceptions and more knowledge about breast cancer prevalence, but these differences lost significance when corrected for counselees' risk levels and other background characteristics. Counselees from the UK might report higher levels of worry than Dutch counselees and this could not be explained by their background characteristics. Comparisons of findings between the UK and the Netherlands show that the UK seems to have a higher percentage of high-risk referrals and these counselees seem to have higher risk perceptions. Irrespective of their actual risk level, UK counselees might be more worried. Comparing findings between the different countries raises questions about how transferable research findings are from one culture to another.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12687-011-0061-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3215784  PMID: 22109876
Breast cancer; Genetic counselling; Brca1/2; Referrals; GP; International comparison
10.  Outcomes for depression and anxiety in primary care and details of treatment: a naturalistic longitudinal study 
BMC Psychiatry  2011;11:180.
There is little evidence as to whether or not guideline concordant care in general practice results in better clinical outcomes for people with anxiety and depression. This study aims to determine possible associations between guideline concordant care and clinical outcomes in general practice patients with depression and anxiety, and identify patient and treatment characteristics associated with clinical improvement.
This study forms part of the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA).
Adult patients, recruited in general practice (67 GPs), were interviewed to assess DSM-IV diagnoses during baseline assessment of NESDA, and also completed questionnaires measuring symptom severity, received care, socio-demographic variables and social support both at baseline and 12 months later. The definition of guideline adherence was based on an algorithm on care received. Information on guideline adherence was obtained from GP medical records.
721 patients with a current (6-month recency) anxiety or depressive disorder participated. While patients who received guideline concordant care (N = 281) suffered from more severe symptoms than patients who received non-guideline concordant care (N = 440), both groups showed equal improvement in their depressive or anxiety symptoms after 12 months. Patients who (still) had moderate or severe symptoms at follow-up, were more often unemployed, had smaller personal networks and more severe depressive symptoms at baseline than patients with mild symptoms at follow-up. The particular type of treatment followed made no difference to clinical outcomes.
The added value of guideline concordant care could not be demonstrated in this study. Symptom severity, employment status, social support and comorbidity of anxiety and depression all play a role in poor clinical outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3288826  PMID: 22099636
11.  Changes in the quality of doctor–patient communication between 1982 and 2001: an observational study on hypertension care as perceived by patients and general practitioners 
BMJ Open  2011;1(1):e000203.
The rise of evidence-based medicine may have implications for the doctor–patient interaction. In recent decades, a shift towards a more task-oriented approach in general practice indicates a development towards more standardised healthcare.
To examine whether this shift is accompanied by changes in perceived quality of doctor–patient communication.
GP observers and patient observers performed quality assessments of Dutch General Practice consultations on hypertension videotaped in 1982–1984 and 2000–2001. In the first cohort (1982–1984) 81 patients were recorded by 23 GPs and in the second cohort (2000–2001) 108 patients were recorded by 108 GPs. The GP observers and patient observers rated the consultations on a scale from 1 to 10 on three quality dimensions: medical technical quality, psychosocial quality and quality of interpersonal behaviour. Multilevel regression analyses were used to test whether a change occurred over time.
The findings showed a significant improvement over time on all three dimensions. There was no difference between the quality assessments of GP observers and patient observers. The three different dimensions were moderately to highly correlated and the assessments of GP observers showed less variability in the second cohort.
Hypertension consultations in general practice in the Netherlands received higher quality assessments by general practitioners and patients on medical technical quality, psychosocial quality and the quality of interpersonal behaviour in 2000–2001 as compared with the 1980s. The shift towards a more task-oriented approach in hypertension consultations does not seem to detract from individual attention for the patient. In addition, there is less variation between general practitioners in the quality assessments of more recent consultations. The next step in this line of research is to unravel the factors that determine patients' quality assessments of doctor–patient communication.
Article summary
Article focus
Doctor–patient communication in hypertension consultations has become more business-like and task-oriented in the past few decades.
Shifts in communication styles in general practice may have produced changes in quality assessments of doctor–patient communication by general practitioners and patients.
Key messages
Compared with 20 years earlier (1982–1984), hypertension consultations recorded in 2000–2001 received higher quality assessments by GP observers and patient observers on three distinct quality dimensions: medical technical quality, psychosocial quality and the quality of interpersonal behaviour.
There was less variation between general practitioners in the quality assessments of more recent consultations.
Strengths and limitations of this study
Videotaped real-life general practice consultations from two distinct periods were analysed, which means that the findings refer to actual behaviour in general practice.
The quality assessments were made according to the same protocol in both periods.
Assessments of the GPs were executed by contemporary peers, while the assessments of patients were performed retrospectively. However, the concurrence of assessments of patient observers and GP observers in their different contexts reinforces our conclusions.
The generalisability of the findings is restricted to hypertension consultations, which involve a high proportion of repeat visits.
PMCID: PMC3191582  PMID: 22021787
12.  Patient Factors Associated with Guideline-concordant Treatment of Anxiety and Depression in Primary Care 
To identify associations of patient characteristics (predisposing, enabling and need factors) with guideline-concordant care for anxiety and depression in primary care.
Analysis of data from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA).
Seven hundred and twenty-one patients with a current anxiety or depressive disorder, recruited from 67 general practitioners (GPs), were included.
Diagnoses according to the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV) were made using a structured and widely validated assessment. Socio-demographic and enabling characteristics, severity of symptoms, disability, (under treatment for) chronic somatic conditions, perceived need for care, beliefs and evaluations of care were measured by questionnaires. Actual care data were derived from electronic medical records. Criteria for guideline-concordant care were based on general practice guidelines, issued by the Dutch College of General Practitioners.
Two hundred and eighty-one (39%) patients received guideline-concordant care. High education level, accessibility of care, comorbidity of anxiety and depression, and severity and disability scores were positively associated with receiving guideline-concordant care in univariate analyses. In multivariate multi-level logistic regression models, significant associations with the clinical need factors disappeared. Positive evaluations of accessibility of care increased the chance (OR = 1.31; 95%−CI = 1.05–1.65; p = 0.02) of receiving guideline-concordant care, as well as perceiving any need for medication (OR = 2.99; 95%−CI = 1.84–4.85; p < 0.001), counseling (OR = 2.25; 95%−CI = 1.29–3.95; p = 0.005) or a referral (OR = 1.83; 95%−CI = 1.09–3.09; p = 0.02). A low educational level decreased the odds (OR = 0.33; 95%−CI = 0.11–0.98; p = 0.04) of receiving guideline-concordant care.
This study shows that education level, accessibility of care and patients’ perceived needs for care are more strongly associated with the delivery of guideline-concordant care for anxiety or depression than clinical need factors. Initiatives to improve GPs’ communication skills around mental health issues, and to improve recognition of people suffering from anxiety disorders, could increase the number of patients receiving treatment for depression and anxiety in primary care.
PMCID: PMC2881973  PMID: 20049547
depression; psychology; guidelines; primary care; patient-centered care
13.  Does burnout among doctors affect their involvement in patients' mental health problems? A study of videotaped consultations 
BMC Family Practice  2009;10:60.
General practitioners' (GPs') feelings of burnout or dissatisfaction may affect their patient care negatively, but it is unknown if these negative feelings also affect their mental health care. GPs' available time, together with specific communication tools, are important conditions for providing mental health care. We investigated if GPs who feel burnt out or dissatisfied with the time available for their patients, are less inclined to encourage their patients to disclose their distress, and have shorter consultations, in order to gain time and energy. This may result in less psychological evaluations of patients' complaints.
We used 1890 videotaped consultations from a nationally representative sample of 126 Dutch GPs to analyse GPs' communication and the duration of their consultations. Burnout was subdivided into emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and reduced accomplishment. Multilevel regression analyses were used to investigate which subgroups of GPs differed significantly.
GPs with feelings of exhaustion or dissatisfaction with the available time have longer consultations compared to GPs without these feelings. Exhausted GPs, and GPs with feelings of depersonalisation, talk more about psychological or social topics in their consultations. GPs with feelings of reduced accomplishment are an exception: they communicate less affectively, are less patient-centred and have less eye contact with their patients compared to GPs without reduced accomplishment.
We found no relationship between GPs' feelings of burnout or dissatisfaction with the available time and their psychological evaluations of patients' problems.
GPs' feelings of burnout or dissatisfaction with the time available for their patients do not obstruct their diagnosis and awareness of patients' psychological problems. On the contrary, GPs with high levels of exhaustion or depersonalisation, and GPs who are dissatisfied with the available time, sometimes provide more opportunities to discuss mental health problems. This increases the chance that appropriate care will be found for patients with mental health problems. On the other hand, these GPs are themselves more likely to retire, or risk burnout, because of their dissatisfaction. Therefore these GPs may benefit from training or personal coaching to decrease the chance that the process of burnout will get out of hand.
PMCID: PMC2754435  PMID: 19706200
14.  Online focus groups as a tool to collect data in hard-to-include populations: examples from paediatric oncology 
The purpose of this article is to describe and evaluate the methodology of online focus group discussions within the setting of paediatric oncology.
Qualitative study consisting of separate moderated asynchronous online discussion groups with 7 paediatric cancer patients (aged 8–17), 11 parents, and 18 survivors of childhood cancer (aged 8–17 at diagnosis).
All three participant groups could be actively engaged over a one-week period. Respondents highly valued the flexibility and convenience of logging in at their own time and place to join the discussion. Adolescent patients and survivors emphasized that the anonymity experienced made them feel comfortable to express their views in detail. The findings indicate a strong preference for online group discussions across all participant groups.
The findings show that online focus group methodology is a feasible tool for collecting qualitative data within the setting of paediatric oncology, and may offer new opportunities to collect data in other hard-to-include populations. The evaluations seem to indicate that the online group discussions have given participants an opportunity to articulate their experiences and views in a way they might not have done in a traditional group discussion.
PMCID: PMC2653071  PMID: 19257883
15.  Older cancer patients' information and support needs surrounding treatment: An evaluation through the eyes of patients, relatives and professionals 
BMC Nursing  2009;8:1.
Providing cancer patients with adequate treatment information is important for patients' health, well-being and satisfaction. Nurses play an important role in patient education. So far, few studies focused on the specific information needs of older cancer patients surrounding chemotherapy treatment. Given the growing incidence of cancer among older individuals, insight in these needs is crucial. This article describes the views of older cancer patients, their relatives and professionals on older patients' specific communication needs regarding chemotherapy treatment.
A qualitative design was used. Five focus group interviews were held with older cancer patients and their partners (two groups) and professionals with a background in nursing, oncology, gerontology and/or patient-provider communication (three groups). In addition, face to face in-depth interviews were conducted with older cancer patients. A total number of 38 patients and relatives participated, with a mean age of 67.6 years. The focus groups and interviews were audio-recorded for subsequent transcription and analysis.
Older people have more difficulties processing and remembering information than younger ones. A trustful environment appears to be a prerequisite for reflection of older patients on the information provided and individualized information is essential to enhance memory of information. However, the results show that both patients and professionals experienced insufficient exploration of the patients' personal situation and individual information needs. Patients also strengthened the importance of sensitive communication, e.g. showing empathy en emotional support, throughout the continuum of cancer care. Moreover, potential areas of improvement were identified, including engaging the patients' relatives and encouraging patients and relatives to ask questions.
Patient education should be more tailored to older cancer patients' individual information and support needs and abilities by exploring the required amount and content of information, treatment goals and expectations. Nurses can establish a trustful environment by showing empathy and emotional support. Recommendations are given to enhance recall of information in older patients; information giving should be more structured by summarizing and repeating the most important, personally relevant information. To adapt to specific information needs, communication training for nurses and the use of aids such as a question prompt sheet could be useful tools.
PMCID: PMC2654893  PMID: 19152675
16.  Young patients', parents', and survivors' communication preferences in paediatric oncology: Results of online focus groups 
BMC Pediatrics  2007;7:35.
Guidelines in paediatric oncology encourage health care providers to share relevant information with young patients and parents to enable their active participation in decision making. It is not clear to what extent this mirrors patients' and parents' preferences. This study investigated communication preferences of childhood cancer patients, parents, and survivors of childhood cancer.
Communication preferences were examined by means of online focus groups. Seven patients (aged 8–17), 11 parents, and 18 survivors (aged 8–17 at diagnosis) participated. Recruitment took place by consecutive inclusion in two Dutch university oncological wards. Questions concerned preferences regarding interpersonal relationships, information exchange and participation in decision making.
Participants expressed detailed and multi-faceted views regarding their needs and preferences in communication in paediatric oncology. They agreed on the importance of several interpersonal and informational aspects of communication, such as honesty, support, and the need to be fully informed. Participants generally preferred a collaborative role in medical decision making. Differences in views were found regarding the desirability of the patient's presence during consultations. Patients differed in their satisfaction with their parents' role as managers of the communication.
Young patients' preferences mainly concur with current guidelines of providing them with medical information and enabling their participation in medical decision making. Still, some variation in preferences was found, which faces health care providers with the task of balancing between the sometimes conflicting preferences of young cancer patients and their parents.
PMCID: PMC2206018  PMID: 17996108
17.  Cancer Genetic Counseling: Communication and Counselees’ Post-Visit Satisfaction, Cognitions, Anxiety, and Needs Fulfillment 
Journal of Genetic Counseling  2007;16(1):85-96.
Little is known about the relation between communication during cancer genetic counseling and outcome. We assessed associations between counselor-counselee communication and counselee satisfaction, cognitions, anxiety, and fulfillment of major needs, corrected for pre-visit levels as appropriate. In total 171 consecutive new counselees, mainly referred for breast or colon cancer, received pre- and post-visit questionnaires assessing needs/fulfillment, knowledge, perceived control (PPC), anxiety (STAI), and satisfaction. Initial visits were videotaped and counselor eye gaze was recorded. Verbal communication was rated by Roter Interaction Analysis System (RIAS). Asking more medical questions was associated with lower satisfaction levels. Receiving more medical information was related to higher correct knowledge scores, higher reported fulfillment of some needs, and unrelated to perceptions of control. Receiving more psychosocial information and longer counselor eye gaze were related to higher anxiety scores. Longer visits were related to higher correct knowledge scores. Providing medical information appears the most powerful communication aspect to increase counselee satisfaction and address needs. More research is needed on how to address adequately (emotional) needs and increase feelings of control.
PMCID: PMC1915655  PMID: 17295054
communication; cancer genetic counseling; needs; outcome
18.  Patient risk profiles and practice variation in nonadherence to antidepressants, antihypertensives and oral hypoglycemics 
Many patients experience difficulties in following treatment recommendations. This study's objective is to identify nonadherence risk profiles regarding medication (antidepressants, antihypertensives, and oral hypoglycemics) from a combination of patients' socio-demographic characteristics, morbidity presented within general practice and medication characteristics. An additional objective is to explore differences in nonadherence among patients from different general practices.
Data were obtained by linkage of a Dutch general practice registration database to a dispensing registration database from the year 2001. Subjects included in the analyses were users of antidepressants (n = 4,877), antihypertensives (n = 14,219), or oral hypoglycemics (n = 2,428) and their GPs. Outcome variables were: 1) early dropout i.e., a maximum of two prescriptions and 2) refill nonadherence (in patients with 3+ prescriptions); refill adherence < 80% was considered as nonadherence. Multilevel modeling was used for analyses.
Both early dropout and refill nonadherence were highest for antidepressants, followed by antihypertensives. Risk factors appeared medication specific and included: 1) non-western immigrants being more vulnerable for nonadherence to antihypertensives and antidepressants; 2) type of medication influencing nonadherence in both antihypertensives and antidepressants, 3) GP consultations contributing positively to adherence to antihypertensives and 4) somatic co-morbidity influencing adherence to antidepressants negatively. There was a considerable range between general practices in the proportion of patients who were nonadherent.
No clear risk profiles for nonadherence could be constructed. Characteristics that are correlated with nonadherence vary across different types of medication. Moreover, both patient and prescriber influence adherence. Especially non-western immigrants need more attention with regard to nonadherence, for example by better monitoring or communication. Since it is not clear which prescriber characteristics influence adherence levels of their patients, there is need for further research into the role of the prescriber.
PMCID: PMC1855317  PMID: 17425792
19.  Does the attention General Practitioners pay to their patients' mental health problems add to their workload? A cross sectional national survey 
BMC Family Practice  2006;7:71.
The extra workload induced by patients with mental health problems may sometimes cause GPs to be reluctant to become involved in mental health care. It is known that dealing with patients' mental health problems is more time consuming in specific situations such as in consultations. But it is unclear if GPs who are more often involved in patients' mental health problems, have a higher workload than other GPs. Therefore we investigated the following: Is the attention GPs pay to their patients' mental health problems related to their subjective and objective workload?
Secondary analyses were made using data from the Second Dutch National Survey of General Practice, a cross sectional study conducted in the Netherlands in 2000–2002. A nationally representative selection of 195 GPs from 104 general practices participated in this National Survey. Data from: 1) a GP questionnaire; 2) a detailed log of the GP's time use during a week and; 3) an electronic medical registration system, including all patients' contacts during a year, were used. Multiple regression analyses were conducted with the GP's workload as an outcome measure, and the GP's attention for mental health problems as a predictor. GP, patient, and practice characteristics were included in analyses as potential confounders.
Results show that GPs with a broader perception of their role towards mental health care do not have more working hours or patient contacts than GPs with a more limited perception of their role. Neither are they more exhausted or dissatisfied with the available time. Also the number of patient contacts in which a psychological or social diagnosis is made is not related to the GP's objective or subjective workload.
The GP's attention for a patient's mental health problems is not related to their workload. The GP's extra workload when dealing in a consultation with patients' mental health problems, as is demonstrated in earlier research, is not automatically translated into a higher overall workload. This study does not confirm GPs' complaints that mental health care is one of the components of their job that consumes a lot of their time and energy. Several explanations for these results are discussed.
PMCID: PMC1693554  PMID: 17147799
20.  Shifts in doctor-patient communication between 1986 and 2002: a study of videotaped General Practice consultations with hypertension patients 
BMC Family Practice  2006;7:62.
Departing from the hypotheses that over the past decades patients have become more active participants and physicians have become more task-oriented, this study tries to identify shifts in GP and patient communication patterns between 1986 and 2002.
A repeated cross-sectional observation study was carried out in 1986 and 2002, using the same methodology. From two existing datasets of videotaped routine General Practice consultations, a selection was made of consultations with hypertension patients (102 in 1986; 108 in 2002). GP and patient communication was coded with RIAS (Roter Interaction Analysis System). The data were analysed, using multilevel techniques.
No gender or age differences were found between the patient groups in either study period. Contrary to expectations, patients were less active in recent consultations, talking less, asking fewer questions and showing less concerns or worries. GPs provided more medical information, but expressed also less often their concern about the patients' medical conditions. In addition, they were less involved in process-oriented behaviour and partnership building. Overall, these results suggest that consultations in 2002 were more task-oriented and businesslike than sixteen years earlier.
The existence of a more equal relationship in General Practice, with patients as active and critical consumers, is not reflected in this sample of hypertension patients. The most important shift that could be observed over the years was a shift towards a more businesslike, task-oriented GP communication pattern, reflecting the recent emphasis on evidence-based medicine and protocolized care. The entrance of the computer in the consultation room could play a role. Some concerns may be raised about the effectiveness of modern medicine in helping patients to voice their worries.
PMCID: PMC1630692  PMID: 17064407
21.  The workload of GPs: consultations of patients with psychological and somatic problems compared 
GPs report that patients' psychosocial problems play a part in 20% of all consultations. GPs state that these consultations are more time-consuming and the perceived burden on the GP is higher.
To investigate whether GPs' workload in consultations is related to psychological or social problems of patients.
Design of study
A cross-sectional national survey in general practice, conducted in the Netherlands from 2000–2002.
One hundred and four general practices in the Netherlands.
Videotaped consultations (n = 1392) of a representative sample of 142 GPs were used. Consultations were categorised in three groups: consultations with a diagnosis in the International Classification of Primary Care chapter P 'psychological' or Z 'social' (n = 138), a somatic diagnosis but with a psychological background according to the GP (n = 309), or a somatic diagnosis and background (n = 945). Workload measures were consultation length, number of diagnoses and GPs' assessment of sufficiency of patient time.
Consultations in which patients' mental health problems play a part (as a diagnosis or in the background) take more time and involve more diagnoses, and the GP is more heavily burdened with feelings of insufficiency of patient time. In consultations with a somatic diagnosis but psychological background, GPs more often experienced a lack of time compared to consultations with a psychological or social diagnosis.
Consultations in which the GP notices psychosocial problems make heavier demands on the GP's workload than other consultations. Patients' somatic problems that have a psychological background induce the highest perceived burden on the GP.
PMCID: PMC1463219  PMID: 16105369
general practice; mental health; referral and consultation; time factors; workload
22.  Communication Patterns of Primary Care Physicians in the United States and The Netherlands 
While international comparisons of medical practice have noted differences in length of visit, few studies have addressed the dynamics of visit exchange.
To compare the communication of Dutch and U.S. hypertensive patients and their physicians in routine medical visits.
Secondary analysis of visit audio/video tapes contrasting a Dutch sample of 102 visits with 27 general practitioners and a U.S. sample of 98 visits with 52 primary care physicians.
The Roter Interaction Analysis System applied to visit audiotapes. Total visit length and duration of the physical exam were measured directly.
U.S. visits were 6 minutes longer than comparable Dutch visits (15.4 vs 9.5 min, respectively), but the proportion of visits devoted to the physical examination was the same (24%). American doctors asked more questions and provided more information of both a biomedical and psychosocial nature, but were less patient-centered in their visit communication than were Dutch physicians. Cluster analysis revealed similar proportions of exam-centered (with especially long physical exam segments) and biopsychosocial visits in the 2 countries; however, 48% of the U.S. visits were biomedically intensive, while only 18% of the Dutch visits were of this type. Fifty percent of the Dutch visits were socioemotional, while this was true for only 10% of the U.S. visits.
U.S. and Dutch primary care visits showed substantial differences in communication patterns and visit length. These differences may reflect country distinctions in medical training and philosophy, health care system characteristics, and cultural values and expectations relevant to the delivery and receipt of medical services.
PMCID: PMC1494863  PMID: 12795731
communication; primary care; patient-centeredness; health care system; visit length

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