Information Reception and Expectations Among Hospitalized Elderly Patients in Taiwan: A Pilot Study

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Abstract

Background:

Communicating with patients, especially geriatric patients, is a challenge for medical professionals. Medical message receiving and expectations among hospitalized elderly patients have not been studied.

Purpose:

The aim of this study was to explore medical message receiving and expectations concerning medical information among hospitalized elderly patients in Taiwan.

Methods:

A descriptive study design was used. Convenience sampling was applied, and the research was conducted in a geriatric ward in a medical center in southern Taiwan. Patients were recruited who were 65 years or older and capable of verbal communication. Data were collected using a self-developed semistructured questionnaire. For each participant, data were collected in one regular ward round. The messages of the physician were recorded. During the first and fourth hours after the ward round, the researcher collected the medical messages that were conveyed by the physician in the ward round and that could be repeated by the patients. Open-ended questions were used to collect data about patient expectations of medical messages during the first hour after the ward round. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, and qualitative data were analyzed using content analysis.

Results:

Thirty patients participated in this study. All of the participants remembered the visit of the physician. Seventeen participants (56.6%), however, could not repeat the messages, and the total message repetition rate was 17.8% at the first hour after the ward round. By the fourth hour, the message repetition rate fell to 8.9%. Furthermore, three participants (10%) reported messages incorrectly. Participants reported the importance and necessity of physicians conveying medical messages. “Desire to know the reasons for discomfort” and “discharge date” were the messages most expected by the participants.

Conclusions:

This study suggests that most hospitalized elderly patients cannot repeat medical messages that are conveyed by their physicians. Written materials and the involvement of principal caregivers in the medical informing process may be necessary. Besides, before providing medical information, medical professionals should be cognizant of the key concerns of their patients.

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