Clinical communication in inflammatory bowel disease: A systematic review of the study of clinician-patient dialogue to inform research and practice

Publication Name

BMJ Open


Objectives This systematic review aims to investigate what is currently known about the characteristics of interactions between patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and their clinicians and its effect on patient outcomes. Data sources Scopus, PubMed, Embase, Communication Abstracts, Health & Society, Linguistics and Language Behaviour Abstracts and PsycINFO were systematically searched from inception to June 2021. Study eligibility criteria Peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters in English investigating the characteristics of naturally occurring interactions between clinicians that manage IBD and patients with IBD during recorded consultations were included. Study appraisal and synthesis methods Risk of bias was assessed using a specifically developed quality assessment tool, grounded in linguistic theory and the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. A narrative synthesis guided by the linguistic concept of metafunction was performed to synthesise the findings. Results Of the 2883 abstracts reviewed five formed the basis of the review. Interactions between IBD nurses and patients have been mostly characterised in terms of information provision regarding prescribed medications without consideration of the interpersonal aspect. Discussing online medical information with nurses has been shown to improve patient satisfaction. Analyses of gastroenterologist-patient interactions have concentrated on the clinical relationship which has been shown to be disease-centred. Shared decision making in ulcerative colitis has been shown to be compromised due to lack of transparency regarding treatment goals. Limitations This review did not include articles in languages other than English. Cumulative evidence could not be produced due to the small number of included studies and the diversity of contexts, theories and data types. Conclusions and implications of key findings There is a paucity of systematic research on naturally occurring clinical communication in IBD and its effect on outcomes. Further research needs to be done to address this knowledge gap. PROSPERO registration number CRD42020169657.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access





Article Number


Funding Sponsor




Link to publisher version (DOI)