Communication gaps between physicians and patients with postherpetic neuralgia: results from a national study on practice patterns
Terry A Glauser1, Gregory D Salinas1, Holder Nevins1, J Chad Williamson1, Mark S Wallace2, Maziar Abdolrasulnia1
1CE Outcomes, Birmingham, AL, 2Department of Anesthesiology, University of California San Diego School of Medicine, La Jolla, CA, USA
Background: The purpose of this study was to identify differences in perceptions of care regarding postherpetic neuralgia, including communication patterns between patients and physicians and levels of satisfaction with therapies and care.
Methods: A survey was developed for physicians (neurologists, internists, and family physicians) and patients with postherpetic neuralgia in order to determine their perspectives on its management.
Results: A total of 142 eligible patient respondents were included in the study, and responses were compared with those of 150 primary care physicians and 76 neurologist respondents. Few patients and physicians indicated satisfaction with the currently available treatments for postherpetic neuralgia. While nearly all physicians responded that they discuss the cause of postherpetic neuralgia with a patient, one in four patients indicated that their physician did not discuss the cause. Similarly, one in four patients were not aware of the duration of postherpetic neuralgia, the treatment side effects, or what to expect from treatment. Patients may be less likely to discuss treatment side effects and quality of life issues than physicians perceive.
Conclusion: Physicians and patients have similar perceptions regarding treatment options for postherpetic neuralgia; however, certain gaps in communication were evident, which may be attributable to physician knowledge and communication skills with patients. Strategies to improve issues of expected outcomes and side effects of treatment may be useful to physicians.
Keywords: postherpetic neuralgia, pain, patient communication, case vignette
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