Improvements are needed in communications between patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and their eye care clinicians with respect to the shared decision making (SDM) process pertaining to their care, according to a study published in Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics. 

Researchers conducted semi-structured interviews of 20 patients with AMD (mean age 74 years, 12 women) and 19 clinicians (mean age 52 years, 9 women, 6 ophthalmologists, 3 optometrists). The team sought to identify barriers to communication and gain insight into difficulties associated with the provision of information during AMD care. 

Patients commonly reported that they did not feel fully informed regarding the duration of their treatment, they did not internalize the invasiveness of these treatments, and expressed concern that their communications with healthcare providers were lacking in empathy. They also stated that they were unaware of the existence of visual aids and rehabilitation services. A majority did state that eye care professionals adequately informed them of the methods of treatments and expressed the need for a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. 


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Clinicians reported limited treatment options, treatment guidelines, and patient comorbidities as factors affecting SDM communications. Some argued that communicating copious amounts of information to patients within a short time frame prevented patients from asking questions, and encouraged patients to bring family members along for visits to help them retain information.

“Managing patient expectations of health care is essential for therapy adherence and achieving positive patient experiences,” according to the researchers, who acknowledge that clinicians must find the time to ensure effective communication with their patients. 

Study limitations include a small sample size and the potential for interviewer and recall bias.

Reference

Scheffer M, Menting J, Roodbeen R. Patients’ and health professionals’ views on shared decision-making in age-related macular degeneration care: a qualitative study. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. Published online June 15, 2022. doi:10.1111/opo.13016