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Editor’s comment: Because effective communication between fibromyalgia patients and their health care providers can be less than ideal, German researchers sought to identify the communication preferences of people with FM. They found that in general an open, patient-centered communication style is especially important to most FM patients. Emotionally supportive communication was also found to be important, however, preferences as to how to convey that support varied widely among individual patients.
Communication preferences in patients with fibromyalgia syndrome: descriptive results and patient characteristics as predictors.
By Antje Ullrich, Johannes Hauer, and Erik Farin
BACKGROUND: Communication with patients with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is often considered difficult. The primary objective of this explorative study was to describe the communication preferences of FMS patients in comparison with other chronic diseases, and the secondary objective was to identify patient-related predictors of those communication preferences.
METHODS: A total of 256 FMS patients were asked to fill out the KOPRA [(Kommunikationspraeferenzen), communication preferences of patients with chronic illness] questionnaire at the beginning of their rehabilitation, answering questions about their communication preferences. The KOPRA’s descriptive parameters were calculated and compared with other diagnosis groups. In order to include as many influencing factors as possible, data on patient-related sociodemographic, medical, pain impact and psychologic variables were gathered. A hierarchical regression analysis with four steps was performed to identify patient-related predictors of patients’ communication preferences.
RESULTS: FMS patients consider an open and patient-centered communication style to be especially important. Emotionally supportive communication and communication about personal circumstances are important for FMS patients, but the preferences of individual patients vary widely. FMS patients reveal higher values in all the subdimensions of communication preferences compared with patients with low back pain or chronic ischemic heart disease. Only a few variables appear to predict patient communication preferences. The explained variance ranged from 3.1% to 9.7%. Psychologic variables have been identified as predictors in conjunction with all communication preferences.
CONCLUSION: Health care providers who communicate with FMS patients should employ an open and patient-centered communication style, and affective communication components should be adapted to accommodate each patient.
Source: Patient Preference and Adherence, January 31, 2014. By Antje Ullrich, Johannes Hauer, and Erik Farin. Medical Center, University of Freiburg, Institute for Quality Management and Social Medicine, Freiburg, Germany.