First-year medical students delivered a 10-minute patient activation intervention (PAI), developed by the Right Question Institute, to low-income, racial/ethnic minority patients of several community health centers in New York City. The PAI aimed to improve these patients’ communication with their physicians and to increase patient activation on the Patient Activation Measure®. The intervention was performed while patients waited to be seen by a physician and can be delivered by people with limited medical training. It included the following five steps:
- Understanding decisions
- Choosing a focus for the health care visit
- Brainstorming questions
- Identifying closed-ended and open-ended questions
- Prioritizing questions
Overall, patients valued the PAI as a useful tool for engaging them in the physician-patient relationship. In addition, patients who received the PAI reported increased satisfaction with the healthcare that they received. The study also revealed several factors that influence the question-asking behavior of minority patients including patient attitudes, social factors, and patient’s self-efficacy in question formulation.
Quotes from participants:
I liked the fact that you pulled me to the side to reassure me that I was in charge as much as the doctor was or even more so.
The talk (PAI) gave me an extra push to ask what I need. I don’t feel nervous and intimidated.
I used to just be satisfied with a simple answer or whatever she (the physician) answered but this time I was able to get more information.
Preparing questions helped improve the visit.
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