Original Research

‘He should feel your pain’: Patient insights on patient–provider communication in Rwanda

Vincent K. Cubaka, Michael Schriver, Janvier B. Kayitare, Phil Cotton, Helle T. Maindal, Laetitia Nyirazinyoye, Per Kallestrup
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 10, No 1 | a1514 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v10i1.1514 | © 2018 Vincent K. Cubaka, Michael Schriver, Janvier B. Kayitare, Phil Cotton, Helle T. Maindal, Laetitia Nyirazinyoye, Per Kallestrup | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 May 2017 | Published: 16 April 2018

About the author(s)

Vincent K. Cubaka, School of Medicine and Pharmacy, University of Rwanda, Rwanda; Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, Denmark
Michael Schriver, Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, Denmark
Janvier B. Kayitare, School of Medicine and Pharmacy, University of Rwanda, Rwanda
Phil Cotton, School of Medicine and Pharmacy, University of Rwanda, Rwanda
Helle T. Maindal, Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, Denmark
Laetitia Nyirazinyoye, School of Public Health, University of Rwanda, Rwanda
Per Kallestrup, Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, Denmark


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Abstract

Background: Patient–provider communication is an interpersonal interaction between a patient and a health care provider.
Objective: This study explored patients’ communication preferences and perceptions on what factors influence the patient–provider communication in primary health care settings in Rwanda.
Methods: In-depth semi-structured interviews with 15 individuals including 8 with limited literacy. A thematic inductive analysis was used.
Results: Patients valued communication with providers and expressed the need for interacting with caring, empathic providers who can share all the information they want and involve them in their own care. Health literacy and power issues were factors that may influence patient–provider communication. Patients with limited literacy appeared to rely highly on health care providers for making decisions about and managing their health care.
Conclusion: The expressed preferences, including those of patients with limited literacy, aligned well with the patient-centred care model. There were indications of a power imbalance weighing on the provider’s side. Although patients with limited literacy were reliant on providers for decision-making, they were ready to be more involved in the care, suggesting a potential for improved patient involvement even for patients with paternalistic care preferences. These patients’ insights can impact policies and curricula to optimise clinical practice. Generated knowledge will contribute to the indispensable yet underdeveloped field of health communication in sub-Saharan Africa.
Practice implications: Findings call for more inclusion of patient perspectives in the patient–provider encounter. This could require more training of professionals and research on the topic, both in Rwanda and in other regions.

Keywords

patient-provider communication; patients’ views; quality of care

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