Background: Diabetes is estimated to affect up to 1 in 5 VA patients overall and up to 1 in 4 racial/ethnic minority patients. Patients with low health literacy and minority groups have more difficulty communicating with physicians, report lower adherence to physicians'recommendations, and have higher rates of poor diabetes outcomes. Activating patients to use more effective communication with physicians'can lead to better adherence to treatment and to better biomedical outcomes. In this project we build upon our prior work from two HSRD funded pilot projects to improve doctor patient communication in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). In a previously funded short-term project, SHP-08-182, we conducted focus groups with patients with T2DM to elicit and understand from the patient perspective, barriers to communicating with their physician. This qualitative work was used in a subsequent pilot project, PPO-08-402 to refine and pilot test an educational video to encourage patients to use active participatory communication in their visits to physicians. This work was successfully completed and the product is a 10 minute video that in testing was found to be acceptable to patients and feasible for patients to view immediately preceding their medical encounter. Objectives: In this project we propose to test the effectiveness of the video as an intervention to improved patients'communication. Our primary aim is to conduct a randomized controlled trial of an intervention testing whether the intervention increases patients'active participatory communication behaviors, patients'post-visit ratings of self efficacy to communicate, medication adherence, and diabetic control (HgbA1c). There are four secondary aims which include assessments of the (1) mediators, and (2) moderators of the relationship of the intervention condition to outcomes, (3) costs of the intervention, and (4) an evaluation of the feasibility of using the video for pre-visit preparation. Methods: We will conduct a two group, pre-post, randomized controlled, single-site trial of the intervention in patients with T2DM. We will recruit 156 patients and their physicians for a pre and post-intervention visit. Physicians will be trained with the agenda setting module from the Four Habits model. Patients will be randomized to view a 10 minute intervention or control video prior to their second visit. Visits will be audio recorde and analyzed for patients'and physicians'communication behaviors. Self-efficacy to communicate will be collected by self report. Adherence will be collected by self-report and by medication possession ratio. Diabetic control is collected by chart review. Analyses will evaluate the relationship of the intervention condition to outcomes, mediators and moderators of that relationship, and will estimate costs of the intervention and feasibility of using the video in a busy clinic. Impacts: VA transformation efforts including interprofessional Patient Aligned Care Teams (PACT) are focusing attention on patient-centered care. Improved communication is a central feature of patient centered care. Communication in medical interactions is critical and plays an important, but often overlooked role in health-care decision making and quality of care. Patients who have difficulty communicating are less involved in consultations with their physician, receive less information and support, and are less satisfied with their care. In turn, these patients may not understand their treatment options, may have less knowledge, less positive beliefs about treatment and less trust in physician, and may experience poorer health outcomes. Teaching patients to communicate more effectively is patient-centered because it inherently supports a patient-driven approach to delivering healthcare. Our intervention is designed to encourage patients'active communication. Improving patients'communication is a unique focus that may supplement and add to the VA efforts in areas such as the Patient Aligned Care Team. In addition, the methodology is not disease specific and may be a paradigm for improvement in other conditions.

Public Health Relevance

Diabetes is common, it is expensive, and it is a chronic condition. Estimates put the prevalence of diabetes at almost 20 percent in VA patients and the prevalence of diabetes in the VA is higher among racial and ethnic minorities. Poorly controlled diabetes leads to a number of complications including cardiovascular disease, blindness, amputation, and end stage renal disease. Adherence to medication regimens (as well as lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise) is important to achieve diabetes care goals. Adherence to recommended care is related at least in part to effective communication in medical encounters. This project is designed to test a video intervention to improve patients'communication behaviors. Doctors will also receive a communication skills training program. The project will assess the impact of the training programs on communication and outcomes. The study is designed to help make patient care more patient-centered, which is one of the six aims for improvement in the IOM Report, Crossing the Quality Chasm and is a goal of VA transformation efforts.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Veterans Affairs (VA)
Non-HHS Research Projects (I01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
HSR-2 Determinants of Patient Response to Care (HSR2)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Jesse Brown VA Medical Center
United States
Zip Code