June 10, 2014
1 min read

Simple communication techniques help doctors address glaucoma medication compliance

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NICE, France — Learning communication skills allows physicians to improve patients’ risk awareness, compliance with glaucoma medications and overall therapy outcomes, according to a speaker here.

A group of physicians underwent a 1-day course specifically designed to improve communication skills in a clinical setting. Before the course, the physicians were videotaped while receiving glaucoma patients. Average chair time with patients was 8 minutes and was mainly spent discussing IOP, visual field or optic nerve damage.

David S. Friedman

“Doctors spoke 70% of the words and asked two-thirds of the questions. Barriers to adherence were assessed in a minority of cases. Only in rare cases patients were asked about their understanding of glaucoma, their concerns, and their experiences and attitude to treatment,” David S. Friedman, MD, said at the 2014 European Glaucoma Society meeting.

In a separate interview, 12 of 50 patients admitted non-adherence. The physicians had detected only three of them, according to Friedman.

During the course, physicians were taught to focus more on the patient, as well as to avoid close-ended questions and judgmental attitudes.

“Questions such as, ‘You are taking your drops twice a day, right?’ don’t encourage patients to tell the truth,” Friedman said.

Upon completion of the course, physicians’ communication with patients improved significantly, according to Friedman.

“They asked twice as many questions, mainly open questions, established a non-judgmental tone, asked about missed doses every time and detected 78% of non-adherent cases. Substantial discussion on adherence was done in 86% of the encounters,” he said.

Disclosure: Friedman has no relevant financial disclosures.