Adolescents and young adults communicating with gastroenterologists: Variation in inflammatory bowel disease clinical communication

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International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health


Objectives: This study explored the variation in emerging adults' communication with gastroenterologists around the management of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Methods: Nineteen emerging adults with IBD aged 18-25 and seven gastroenterologists participated in the study. Outpatient specialist consultations of consenting participants were audio-recorded and transcribed. Transcribed consultations were analysed in terms of the linguistic structure of the consultations and the gastroenterologist-patient role relationship. Results: Variations in the emerging adults' communication with their gastroenterologists stem partly from variation in their ability, opportunity, or need to contribute to the different phases of the consultation and partly from variations in the gastroenterologists' style of communication. Gastroenterologists differed in the construction of their role relationship with the patient, resulting in variations in employing empowering strategies including eliciting, exploring, and clarifying the patient's concerns, sharing clinical reasoning, and validating the patient experience. Variations were also observed in the length of appointments and the gastroenterologists' assessment and addressing of adherence issues. Techniques used by the gastroenterologist varied (1) from simply confirming adherence, to a comprehensive assessment of the patient's understanding of their management plan and their feedback, and (2) from use of persuasion to values calibration. Conclusions: Evidence-based consumer interventions and communication guidelines for clinicians are needed to address the identified variations in providing care to emerging adults living with chronic conditions.

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