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Providers contextualise care more often when they discover patient context by asking: meta-analysis of three primary data sets
  1. Alan Schwartz1,
  2. Saul J Weiner2,3,
  3. Amy Binns-Calvey1,4,
  4. Frances M Weaver4,5
  1. 1Department of Medical Education, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  2. 2VA Center of Innovation for Complex Chronic Healthcare, Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  3. 3Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  4. 4VA Center of Innovation in Complex Chronic Healthcare, Hines VA Hospital, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  5. 5Departments of Medicine and Public Health Sciences, Loyola University, Maywood, Illinois, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Alan Schwartz, Department of Medical Education University of Illinois at Chicago, (mc 591), 808 S. Wood St, 986 CME, Chicago, IL 60612, USA; alansz{at}


Objectives One important component of patient-centred care is provider incorporation of patient contextual factors—life circumstances relevant to their care—in managing the patient's health. The current study uses data sets collected from direct observation of care to examine if how a provider learns contextual information influences whether the provider incorporates the information into a care plan.

Methods Three data sets were reanalysed: a research study with physicians, a quality improvement project with physicians and a performance measurement project with telephone health assistants. In each data set, investigators compute rates of incorporation of patient contextual factors into the care plan for encounters in which factors were elicited in response to a probe by the provider versus revealed spontaneously by the patient. We report the rates, CIs and associated ORs for each study and overall using a random effects meta-analysis.

Results Providers elicited 57%, 49% and 30% of patient contextual factors identified in encounters in each data set. Patient contextual factors identified in response to probes were incorporated into the plan of care more frequently than those revealed spontaneously by patients (68% vs 46%, 71% vs 54% and 93% vs 77%, respectively). The summary OR for incorporation of patient contextual factors into the care plan when the factor was probed versus revealed spontaneously was 4.16 (95% CI 2.0 to 8.6). While this estimate was associated with significant heterogeneity (I2=76%), the ORs for the individual data sets were 2.53 (1.4 to 4.5), 6.25 (4.9 to 8.0) and 4.2 (0.9 to 19.3).

Conclusions In encounters where addressing patient contextual factors may play an important role in care decisions, factors that are elicited actively by the provider are more likely to be incorporated in the care plan than factors revealed spontaneously by the patient. These differences in the care process associated with provider performance can only be demonstrated through direct observation.

  • Decision making
  • Performance measures
  • Evaluation methodology
  • Quality measurement
  • Patient-centred care

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