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1.  Patient enablement requires physician empathy: a cross-sectional study of general practice consultations in areas of high and low socioeconomic deprivation in Scotland 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:6.
Patient 'enablement' is a term closely aligned with 'empowerment' and its measurement in a general practice consultation has been operationalised in the widely used patient enablement instrument (PEI), a patient-rated measure of consultation outcome. However, there is limited knowledge regarding the factors that influence enablement, particularly the effect of socio-economic deprivation. The aim of the study is to assess the factors influencing patient enablement in GP consultations in areas of high and low deprivation.
A questionnaire study was carried out on 3,044 patients attending 26 GPs (16 in areas of high socio-economic deprivation and 10 in low deprivation areas, in the west of Scotland). Patient expectation (confidence that the doctor would be able to help) was recorded prior to the consultation. PEI, GP empathy (measured by the CARE Measure), and a range of other measures and variables were recorded after the consultation. Data analysis employed multi-level modelling and multivariate analyses with the PEI as the dependant variable.
Although numerous variables showed a univariate association with patient enablement, only four factors were independently predictive after multilevel multivariate analysis; patients with multimorbidity of 3 or more long-term conditions (reflecting poor chronic general health), and those consulting about a long-standing problem had reduced enablement scores in both affluent and deprived areas. In deprived areas, emotional distress (GHQ-caseness) had an additional negative effect on enablement. Perceived GP empathy had a positive effect on enablement in both affluent and deprived areas. Maximal patient enablement was never found with low empathy.
Although other factors influence patient enablement, the patients' perceptions of the doctors' empathy is of key importance in patient enablement in general practice consultations in both high and low deprivation settings.
PMCID: PMC3329411  PMID: 22316293
Patient Enablement; Empathy; General Practice Consultation; Socio-economic Deprivation
2.  The Chinese-version of the CARE Measure reliably differentiates between doctors in primary care: a cross-sectional study in Hong Kong 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:43.
The Consultation and Relational Empathy (CARE) Measure is a widely used patient-rated experience measure which has recently been translated into Chinese and has undergone preliminary qualitative and quantitative validation. The objective of this study was to determine the reliability of the Chinese-version of the CARE Measure in reliably differentiating between doctors in a primary care setting in Hong Kong
Data were collected from 984 primary care patients attending 20 doctors with differing levels of training in family medicine in 5 public clinics in Hong Kong. The acceptability of the Chinese-CARE measure to patients was assessed. The reliability of the measure in discriminating effectively between doctors was analysed by Generalisability-theory (G-Theory)
The items in the Chinese-CARE measure were regarded as important by patients and there were few 'not applicable' responses. The measure showed high internal reliability (coefficient 0.95) and effectively differentiated between doctors with only 15-20 patient ratings per doctor (inter-rater reliability > 0.8). Doctors' mean CARE measure scores varied widely, ranging from 24.1 to 45.9 (maximum possible score 50) with a mean of 34.6. CARE Measure scores were positively correlated with level of training in family medicine (Spearman's rho 0.493, p < 0.05).
These data demonstrate the acceptability, feasibility and reliability of using the Chinese-CARE Measure in primary care in Hong Kong to differentiate between doctors interpersonal competencies. Training in family medicine appears to enhance these key interpersonal skills.
PMCID: PMC3123195  PMID: 21631927
CARE Measure; reliability; consultations; empathy; Hong Kong China; primary care
3.  A qualitative study of the views of patients with long-term conditions on family doctors in Hong Kong 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:46.
Primary care based management of long-term conditions (LTCs) is high on the international healthcare agenda, including the Asia-Pacific region. Hong Kong has a 'mixed economy' healthcare system with both public and private sectors with a range of types of primary care doctors. Recent Hong Kong Government policy aims to enhance the management of LTCs in primary care possibly based on a 'family doctor' model. Patients' views on this are not well documented and the aim of the present study was to explore the views of patients with LTCs on family doctors in Hong Kong.
The views of patients (with a variety of LTCs) on family doctors in Hong Kong were explored. Two groups of participants were interviewed; a) those who considered themselves as having a family doctor, b) those who considered themselves as not having a family doctor (either with a regular primary care doctor but not a family doctor or with no regular primary care doctor). In-depth individual semi-structured interviews were carried out with 28 participants (10 with a family doctor, 10 with a regular doctor, and 8 with no regular doctor) and analysed using the constant comparative method.
Participants who did not have a family doctor were familiar with the concept but regarded it as a 'luxury item' for the rich within the private healthcare system. Those with a regular family doctor (all private) regarded having one as important to their and their family's health. Participants in both groups felt that as well as the more usual family medicine specialist or general practitioner, traditional Chinese medicine practitioners also had the potential to be family doctors. However most participants attended the public healthcare system for management of their LTCs whether they had a family doctor or not. Cost, perceived need, quality, trust, and choice were all barriers to the use of family doctors for the management of their LTCs.
Important barriers to the adoption of a 'family doctor' model of management of LTCs exist in Hong Kong. Effective policy implementation seems unlikely unless these complex barriers are addressed.
PMCID: PMC2889885  PMID: 20525340
4.  A qualitative study of patients' views on quality of primary care consultations in Hong Kong and comparison with the UK CARE Measure 
BMC Family Practice  2009;10:10.
Patients' priorities and views on quality care are well-documented in Western countries but there is a dearth of research in this area in the East. The aim of the present study was to explore Chinese patients' views on quality of primary care consultations in Hong Kong and to compare these with the items in the CARE measure (a process measure of consultation quality widely used in the UK) in order to assess the potential utility of the CARE measure in a Chinese population.
Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted on 21 adult patients from 3 different primary care clinics (a public primary healthcare clinic, a University health centre, and a private family physician's clinic). Topics discussed included expectations, experiences, and views about quality of medical consultations. Interviews were typed verbatim, and a thematic approach was taken to identify key issues. These identified issues were then compared with the ten CARE measure items, using a CARE framework: Connecting (Care Measure items 1–3), Assessing (item 4), Responding (items 5,6), and Empowering (items 7–10).
Patients judged doctors in terms of both the process of the consultation and the perceived outcomes. Themes identified that related to the interpersonal process of the consultation fitted well under the CARE framework; Connecting and communicating (18/21 patients), Assessing holistically (10/21 patients), Responding (18/21 patients) and Empowering (19/21 patients). Patients from the public clinic, who were generally of lower socio-economic status, were least likely to expect holistic care or empowerment. Two-thirds of patients also judged doctors on whether they performed an adequate physical examination, and three-quarters on the later outcomes of consultation (in terms of relief or cure and/or side-effects of prescribed drugs).
These findings suggest that Chinese patients in Hong Kong value engaged, empathic primary care doctors and judge the quality of consultations largely on these human skills and the attitudes and values that underpin them, as well as on the perceived outcomes of treatment. The match between themes relating to consultation process and the CARE Measure items suggests utility of this measure in this population, but further quantitative validation is required.
PMCID: PMC2633320  PMID: 19173724
5.  Quality in general practice consultations; a qualitative study of the views of patients living in an area of high socio-economic deprivation in Scotland 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:22.
Inequality in health and health care services is an important policy issue internationally as well as in the UK, and is closely linked to socio-economic deprivation, which in Scotland is concentrated in and around Glasgow. Patients views on primary care in deprived areas are not well documented. In the present study we explore the views of patients living in a high deprivation area on the quality of consultations in general practice.
Qualitative focus group study set in an area of high socio-economic deprivation in a large peripheral housing estate in Glasgow, Scotland. 11 focus groups were conducted; 8 with local community groups and 3 with other local residents. In total 72 patients took part. Grounded theory was used to analyse the data.
Patients' perceptions of the quality of the consultation with GPs consisted of two broad, inter-relating themes; (1) the GPs' competence, and (2) the GPs empathy or ' caring'. Competence was often assumed but many factors coloured this assumption, in particular whether patients had experienced (directly or indirectly with a close family member) 'successful' outcomes with that doctor previously or not. 'Caring' related to patients feeling (a) listened to by the doctor and being able to talk; (b) valued as an individual by the doctor (c) that the doctor understood 'the bigger picture', and (d) the doctors' explanations were clear and understandable.
Relational continuity of care (being able to see the same GP and having a good relationship), and having sufficient time in the consultation were closely linked with perceptions of consultation quality.
Patients from deprived areas want holistic GPs who understand the realities of life in such areas and whom they can trust as both competent and genuinely caring. Without this, they may judge doctors as socially distant and emotionally detached. Relational continuity, empathy and sufficient time in consultations are key factors in achieving this.
PMCID: PMC1857696  PMID: 17442123

Results 1-5 (5)