Improved doctor-patient communication can result from allowing individuals with impairments to talk about their own clinical experiences.

Patient-guided tours (PGTs), a method taken from the experience-based design literature, are becoming more and more popular among researchers who want to better understand patient experiences. The perceptions of patients with impairments, however, have not been thoroughly studied.n

In this study, participants were asked to describe their experiences as they walked through the clinic like they would on a usual visit. The views and opinions of the patients regarding the trips were recorded and written down. Researchers also made field notes and finished theme content analyses.

Their findings support the value of PGT methodology in understanding the experiences of patients with disabilities in the clinic setting. Patients reported that walking through the facility elicited experiences that participants said they would not have recalled using other research methods. They also reported feeling empowered when leading investigators through the clinic space and guiding researchers to “see through their eyes.” Patient-guided tours encouraged patients to be active participants, which increased their comfort levels and sense of collaboration with the medical team. However, patient-guided tours may exclude patients who have severe disabilities.n

What we know:

Researchers striving to improve patient experiences are moving away from the traditional measurements of patient satisfaction (such as surveys or focus groups) to newer strategies. Exploring patient experiences can lead to better patient-provider communication and promote a more collaborative health care approach. Implementing a patient-centered approach, however, requires system-level changes and shared decision making.n

What this study adds:

Through the use of patient-guided tours, researchers gained a greater understanding of the experiences of patients with disabilities in the clinic setting and showed that these tours are a valuable tool to measure in-clinic experiences by patients with disabilities.n

The study is published in The Annals of Family Medicine journal.

More information:
Sakina Walji et al, Patient-Guided Tours: A Patient-Centered Methodology to Understand Patient Experiences of Health Care, The Annals of Family Medicine (2023). DOI: 10.1370/afm.2971

Provided by
American Academy of Family Physicians

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