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aged, ambulatory care, communication, mixed models, nurse-patient relations, nurse practitioner, outcome assessment (healthcare)



  1. Gilbert, Dorothy Ann
  2. Hayes, Eileen


Background: Effective patient-clinician communication is at the heart of good healthcare and may be even more vital for older patients and their nurse practitioners (NPs).


Objectives: The objectives of this study were to examine 1)contributions of older patients' and NPs' characteristics and the content and relationship components of their communication to patients' proximal outcomes (satisfaction and intention to adhere) and longer term outcomes (changes in presenting problems, physical health, and mental health), and 2) contributions of proximal outcomes to longer term outcomes.


Methods: Visits were video-recorded for a statewide sample of 31 NPs and 155 older patients. Patients' and NPs' communications during visits were measured using the Roter Interaction Analysis System for verbal activities, a check sheet for nonverbal activities, and an inventory of relationship dimension items. Proximal outcomes were measured with single items after visits. At 4 weeks, change in presenting problems was measured with a single item, and physical and mental health changes were measured with the SF-12 Version 2 Health Survey. Mixed-model regression with backward deletion was conducted until only predictors with p <= .05 remained in the models.


Results: With the other variables in the models held constant, better outcomes were related to background characteristics of poorer baseline health, nonmanaged care settings, and more NP experience; to a content component of seeking and giving biomedical and psychosocial information; and to a relationship component of more positive talk and greater trust and receptivity and affection, depth, and similarity. Poorer outcomes were associated with higher rates of lifestyle discussion and NPs' rapport building that patients may have perceived to be patronizing. Greater intention to adhere was associated with greater improvement in presenting problems.


Discussion: Older patient-NP communication was effective regarding seeking and giving biomedical and psychosocial information other than that involving lifestyle. Studies of ways to improve older patient-NP lifestyle discussions and rapport building are needed.