Assessment of Abilities of Gastroenterology Fellows to Provide Information to Patients With Liver Disease

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Abstract

BACKGROUND & AIMS

Patient education is critical in ensuring patient compliance and good health outcomes. Fellows must be able to effectively communicate with their patients, delivering enough information for the patient to understand their medical problem and maximize patient compliance. We created an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) with 4 liver disease cases to assess fellows' knowledge and ability to inform standardized patients (SPs) about their clinical condition.

METHODS

We developed 4 cases highlighting different aspects of liver disease and created a 4-station OSCE: hepatitis B, acute hepatitis C, new diagnosis of cirrhosis, and an end-stage cirrhotic nontransplant candidate. The SP with hepatitis B was minimizing the fact that she could not read English. The acute hepatitis C SP was a nursing student who is afraid that having hepatitis C might jeopardize her career. The SP with the new diagnosis of alcoholic cirrhosis needed to stop drinking, and the end-stage liver disease patient had to grapple with his advanced directives. Twelve fellows from 4 GI training programs participated. Our focus was to assess the fellows' knowledge about liver diseases and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education competencies of health literacy, shared decision making, advanced directives, and goals of care. The goal for the fellows was to communicate effectively with the SPs, and acknowledge that each patient had an emotionally charged issue to overcome. The SPs used a checklist to rate fellows' performance. Faculty and the SPs observed the cases and provided feedback. The fellows were surveyed on their performance regarding the case.

RESULTS

The majority of fellows were able to successfully summarize findings and discuss a plan with the patient in the new diagnosis of cirrhosis (76.92%) and hepatitis C case (100%), but were less successful in the hepatitis B case (30.77%) and the end-of-life case (41.67%). Overall, a small percentage of fellows reflected that they did a good job (22%–33%), except at the end-of-life case (67%). The fellows' greatest challenge was trying to cover a lot of information in a single outpatient visit.

CONCLUSIONS

Caring for patients with liver diseases can be complex and time consuming. The patients and fellows' observations were discordant in several areas: for example, the fellows believed they excelled in the end-of-life case, but the SP thought only a small percentage of fellows were able to successfully summarize and discuss the plan. This discrepancy and others highlight important areas of focus in training programs. OSCEs are important to help the fellows facilitate striking the right balance of information delivery and empathy, and this will lead to better patient education, compliance, rapport, and satisfaction.

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