Optometrists must find better methods of providing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) communication to their patients to ensure more realistic depictions of their visual prognosis and dispense educational materials relevant to their specific stage of disease progression, according to research published in Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics.
Researchers used a total of 10 focus groups, which consisted of individuals with AMD (n=17; average age, 73 years; 71% women) and optometrists (n=17; 76% women) in the exploratory qualitative investigation. Among participants with AMD, 59% had early stage disease, 35% had intermediate stage disease, and 6% had advanced neovascular disease. The team recorded and transcribed web conferencing sessions, analyzed interactions using grounded theory, and explored themes pertaining to effective AMD communication among study participants.
The 5 themes identified by investigators included educational material quality, educational material relevance, contextualizing for the individual, contextualizing for the disease, and support network. Both optometrists and individuals with AMD expressed concern regarding the depiction of vision loss in AMD as a black patch overlying common visual scenes and stated a preference for education materials tailored to their specific disease stage. Study participants reported valuing longer appointment durations and peer support from family, friends, or others with AMD. Optometrists reported a need for gauging patient understanding, attitudes, and knowledge, and health and technological literacy when engaging in AMD communications with their patients.
The report acknowledges a possible need for the addition of a core competency of selecting and providing impactful AMD communication to the optometric curriculum.
“The study provides a foundation for understanding how health communication be improved in future—via impactful education materials, chairside verbal communication, care coordination—in health communication in support of patients with AMD,” according to the researchers.
Study limitations include the strict inclusion of English-speaking participants and potential volunteer bias.
Wang E, Kalloniatis M, Ly A. Effective health communication for age-related macular degeneration: an exploratory qualitative study. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. Published online May 30, 2023. doi:10.1111/opo.13168