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Communicating laboratory test results for rheumatoid factor: what do patients and physicians want?

Authors Kelman A, Robinson CO, Cochin E, Ahluwalia NJ, Braverman J, Chiauzzi E, Simacek K

Received 16 January 2016

Accepted for publication 6 May 2016

Published 13 December 2016 Volume 2016:10 Pages 2501—2517


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

Ariella Kelman,1,2 Caroline O Robinson,1 Elisenda Cochin,3 Nina J Ahluwalia,1 Julia Braverman,3 Emil Chiauzzi,3 Kristina Simacek3

1Genentech, South San Francisco, CA, USA; 2Division of Immunology and Rheumatology, Stanford University Medical School, Stanford, CA, USA; 3PatientsLikeMe, Cambridge, MA, USA

Objective: This study aimed to explore patient and physician perspectives on current laboratory test reporting practices and to elicit ideas for improvement.
Methods: Two independent studies were conducted. The first solicited members of an online physician community for opinions on current laboratory test reporting practices and possible improvements. The second addressed the same topic, but solicited patient feedback, and included an evaluation of a mock laboratory test report for the rheumatoid factor blood test.
Results: Both physicians and patients expressed a desire for patient-friendly information on laboratory reports. Physicians expressed a need for education for patients around false-positive and false-negative results within laboratory reports, while patients sought context around the meaning of results, relevance to other tests, and follow-up steps.
Conclusion: Physicians and patients see value in enhancing laboratory test reports to improve communication. While reports should include the context that patients value, they should also contain cautionary interpretation emphasized by physicians. Patient consultation on improving laboratory reports may help improve such patient-focused communication and promote greater patient understanding of health information, thereby increasing patient participation in their own health care and improving outcomes.
Practice implications: Laboratory reports are typically designed by experts. Including patients in laboratory report design may facilitate communication and improve outcomes through better patient engagement.

Keywords: laboratory test reports, doctor–patient communication, patient-centered, medical records, health records

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