Introduction Understanding patient attitudes to their medical experience is essential for optimising care and use of resources. This includes their interaction with their health practitioner and their healthcare environment. This study was undertaken to determine patient's preferences and expectations for outpatient colonoscopy, a common gastrointestinal procedure for which there is limited such data from the UK.
Methods Unselected patients attending for elective colonoscopy at a large District General Hospital on randomly selected days in October and November 2011 were invited to participate. Patients independently completed a composite, validated dedicated endoscopy questionnaire, with Likert scale anxiety-related and single sex environment questions and a 15-point preference (ranking) scale of aspects of endoscopy care that were considered most important (1) to least important (15) as contributing to a satisfactory experience. Qualitative and pilot studies were performed initially to confirm validity and reliability in the local population.
Results 217 out of 225 patients agreed to participate (96.4%); male (49%) and female (51%), with mean age of 58 years (range 16–87 years). Mild to moderate anxiety was recorded in over 70% of patients, commonly with respect to anticipation of pain or the results of the procedure. The ranked preference scores suggested that interaction with the endoscopist, including technical skill of the endoscopist, discomfort during the procedure, manner of the endoscopist and the pre-and post procedure discussions were considered as most important to patients. A majority of patients (55%) preferred the endoscopist to explain the findings, but only 26% specified that they needed to explain the procedure itself. Environmental factors were considered of relatively low importance, including the single sex environment (least important), noise levels, explanation of delay, privacy and intra department waiting time. A majority (82.1%) thought that having a single sex environment was minimally/not important, and only 14.3% of patients were prepared to have a delayed appointment for a single sex environment.
Conclusion Patients undergoing colonoscopy appear to highly prioritise aspects of care relating to the interaction with the endoscopist and the procedure itself. Environment factors are considered to have much less value and specifically having a single sex environment. These findings may assist in service redesign around patient-centred care and patients priorities, and the development of patient satisfaction surveys in endoscopy.
Competing interests None declared.