Patients Value Verbal Communication About Discharge Care Plans

1University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Meeting: Hospital Medicine 2011, May 10-13, Dallas, Texas.

Abstract number: 115


Studies show that hospitalized patients do not understand their postdischarge care plan. Increased patient involvement in care has been found to improve outcomes; understanding the care plan is the first step in engaging patients. Several groups, including the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, provide resources such as Project BOOST (Better Outcomes for Older Adults through Safe Transitions) to optimize the hospital discharge process. The resources include printed “care plans” that have reminders of key aspects of postdischarge care. There are few studies about what patients’ preferences are regarding the content of these care plans. We sought to identify what patients view as some of the essential elements of a posthospitalization plan.


We surveyed English‐speaking adult inpatients ≥ 18 years or their proxies with an anonymous written survey on the second day of admission to internal medicine wards at an academic hospital and a county hospital in Seattle, Washington.


We enrolled 240 patients or proxies, and 200 completed the survey; 10.4% were ineligible and 6.3% refused. Of patients, 92.5% completed the surveys. The majority were 18‐59 years (80%), male (62.5%), and had at least a 4‐year‐college education (45%). One hundred percent of patients valued the following items as essential: “when you need to follow‐up with PCP,” “warning signs to call PCP,” and “medicines to continue posthospitalization.” One hundred percent of patients wanted “a lot of information about my condition” and “test results,” but only 39% wanted “a lot of information about my medications” (P < 0.0001). When asked to choose the most important piece of information, 67.5% of patients chose “lifestyle changes.” The majority of patients (64.5%) surveyed wanted verbal discharge instructions, with only 10.5% requesting written discharge instructions (P < 0.0001). One hundred percent of patents thought that personal communication between the inpatient provider and the outpatient primary care provider was “extremely important” or “essential.”


Patients uniformly place high value on (1) verbal (more than written) communication about discharge care plans; (2) personal communication between inpatient and outpatient providers; and (3) information about lifestyle changes (more than medications) for improved health. To engage patients in postdischarge care, the discharge process must include effective verbal communication with the patient about discharge care plans and should include information about healthy lifestyle changes.


M. Shoeb ‐ none; S. Merel ‐ none; M. Jackson ‐ none; A. Himmel ‐ none; S. Martinez ‐ none; B. Anawalt ‐ none

To cite this abstract:

Shoeb M, Merel S, Jackson M, Himmel A, Martinez S, Anawalt B. Patients Value Verbal Communication About Discharge Care Plans. Abstract published at Hospital Medicine 2011, May 10-13, Dallas, Texas. Abstract 115. Journal of Hospital Medicine. 2011; 6 (suppl 2). Accessed April 1, 2020.

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