Abstract Accepted: Australasian Cochrane Centre Symposium Nov 2013

Abstract accepted to the Australasian Cochrane Centre Symposium, Melbourne November 20-11 2013. http://www.cochrane.org.au/symposium/index.php


Title: A qualitative metasynthesis of patient safety, patient communication, and health information exchange for patients with communication disabilities in hospital


1 The University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia; 2Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand; 3The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia; 4La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia.

Background: Commencing August 2013, the authors are collaborating on a three-year NHMRC project entitled ‘Keeping people with communication disability safe in hospital’, (the SafetyCATCH project). Good patient-provider communication underpins effective healthcare and patient safety in hospital settings, but is often difficult when patients have severe communication disabilities. Patients with lifelong or acquired conditions associated with severe communication disabilities (e.g., cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, stroke, autism) are vulnerable to poor  communication in hospital. This impacts negatively upon their health, safety, and wellbeing, with associated costs.


Aim: The aim of this study was to locate and review the findings of research pertaining to three related areas: patient safety, patient communication, and exchange of patient healthcare information in hospital, for patients with communication disabilities. We sought evidence to inform development of the SafetyCATCH project’s research instruments (interview protocols and data extraction forms for patient safety database and document investigations) pertaining to patient safety incidents in hospital for adults with severe communication disabilities.


Results: In this paper, we will provide an ‘evidence map’ pertaining to the three related domains in the research literature: ‘communication in hospital’ ‘patient safety in hospital’ and ‘exchange of health information in hospital’, for patients with lifelong or acquired severe communication disabilities. We will present a qualitative metasynthesis of the literature, that highlights (a) the problems for patients, carers, and hospital staff, and (b) a range of suggested strategies to improve hospital communication, patient safety, and the exchange of personally held health information for this population.

Conclusion: The results of this study have informed development of an interview protocol and data extraction template for use in the SafetyCATCH project. The overlap in the three areas of research provides a strong rationale for future research on what will help these patients and improve their health, safety, and wellbeing in hospital settings.

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