How do patients rate the importance of parameters considered patient-relevant in recent studies? A cross-sectional survey among German general practice patients

Christine Kersting, Julia Hülsmann, Klaus Weckbecker, Achim Mortsiefer

In order to make informed choices based on their individual preferences, patients need to be adequately informed about treatment options and their potential effects. This implies that studies determine the effects of care based on parameters which are relevant to patients. Our scoping review of recent studies revealed a high variety of parameters considered relevant to patients, which addressed as well processes as outcomes of care. It is unclear, which of them are most important for patients across diseases.

Research questions:
How do patients rate the importance of process- and outcome-related parameters considered patient-relevant in previous studies?

The study was designed as cross-sectional survey among German general practice patients. Ten teaching and research practices of the Institute of General Practice and Interprofessional Care supported the study. During a two-week period in fall 2020 patients willing to participate self-administered a short questionnaire. The questionnaire evaluated 32 parameters considered patient-relevant in previous studies on a 5-point Likert-Scale ranging from ‘not relevant’ to ‘highly relevant’ and offered a free-text field for additional parameters. The free-text answers were inductively categorized by two researchers (CK, JH), while quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics in SPSS.

Data from 299 patients were eligible for analysis. The parameter ‘confidence in therapy’ was rated most important, followed by ‘prevention of comorbidity’ and ‘mobility’. Overall, all parameters despite ‘sexuality/sexual function’ and ‘frequency of healthcare service utilization’ were rated important or highly important. Free-text analyses revealed 16 new parameters. Those most frequently mentioned were ‘confidence in practitioner’, ‘inclusion of alternative medicine/treatment methods’, ‘enough time in physician consultation’, and ‘being heard’.

Both, parameters addressing processes and outcomes of care have a high significance for patients. Interestingly, the newly mentioned parameters predominantly addressed processes of care. Further research is needed to understand how patients set priorities and balance between parameters to make choices.

Points for discussion: