Feedback to Patients About Patient-reported Outcomes Does Not Improve Empowerment or Satisfaction

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Abstract

Background

Although patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) are helpful to define whether an intervention has improved a patient's status in ways the patient feels are important, they may also serve an empowering educational role; specifically, sharing a patient's scores might help the patient understand his or her progress during treatment. However, whether sharing PROM scores in this way improves the sense of empowerment or satisfaction with the process of care has not been well explored. Also, less is known whether specific demographic factors or coping strategies are associated with empowerment.

Questions/purposes

We asked the following: (1) Does giving patients feedback on their PROM scores improve a patient's sense of empowerment or satisfaction? (2) Do demographic factors, duration of disability, or self-efficacy correlate with patient empowerment?

Methods

In this prospective cohort study, we assigned patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip sequentially such that the first 70 patients did not receive the intervention and the next 72 did. Patients enrolled in the control cohort were managed according to standard care, whereas patients enrolled in the intervention cohort completed web-based questionnaires measuring their physical function and pain. After filling out the questionnaires, a printout with the scores was given to the patients providing feedback about their physical function and pain. The primary outcome measure was patient empowerment, as measured by the Patient Activation Measure. Secondary outcomes were patient satisfaction, as measured by an 11-point Likert scale and Patient Doctor Relation Questionnaire. Independent variables were demographic factors and coping, measured by the Pain Self-efficacy Questionnaire. Bivariate and multivariable analyses were performed to determine the influence of the feedback. Although no minimum clinically important differences have been defined for the patient empowerment or satisfaction scales, we believe that differences smaller than 10% are unlikely to be clinically important, even if they are statistically significant.

Results

Although the group that received PROM feedback had higher scores for empowerment than the group that did not, the effect size was small and likely not to have been clinically important (2.8 ± 0.85 versus 3.1 ± 0.811; mean difference -0.31; 95% confidence interval, 2.8-3.1; p = 0.037). With the numbers available, there were no differences between the group given PROM feedback and the group that did not receive such feedback in terms of satisfaction scores (8.6 ± 1.4 versus 8.8 ± 1.2; mean difference -0.19; p = 0.39). After controlling for demographic factors such as level of education and duration of complaint, we found that the group that received PROM feedback and who had a higher level of self-efficacy had higher scores for empowerment than the group that did not, although the effect size was small.

Conclusions

PROM feedback did not have a clinically important impact on empowerment or satisfaction. This might indicate that counseling based on PROMs during a single visit may be ineffective. The most important positive finding is that more effective coping strategies are associated with greater patient empowerment.

Level of Evidence

Level II, therapeutic study

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