Question design in nurse-led and GP-led telephone triage for same-day appointment requests: a comparative investigation

Murdoch, J., Barnes, R., Pooler, J., Lattimer, V., Fletcher, E. and Campbell, J. L. (2014) Question design in nurse-led and GP-led telephone triage for same-day appointment requests: a comparative investigation. BMJ Open, 4 (3). ISSN 2044-6055

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Abstract

Objective: To compare doctors’ and nurses’ communication with patients in primary care telephone triage consultations. Design: Qualitative comparative study of content and form of questions in 51 telephone triage encounters between practitioners (general practitioners (GPs)=29; nurses=22) and patients requesting a same-day appointment in primary care. Audio-recordings of nurse-led calls were synchronised with video recordings of nurse's use of computer decision support software (CDSS) during triage. Setting: 2 GP practices in Devon and Warwickshire, UK. Participants: 4 GPs and 29 patients; and 4 nurses and 22 patients requesting a same-day face-to-face appointment with a GP. Main outcome measure: Form and content of practitioner-initiated questions and patient responses during clinical assessment. Results: A total of 484 question–response sequences were coded (160 GP; 324 N). Despite average call lengths being similar (GP=4 min, 37 s, (SD=1 min, 26 s); N=4 min, 39 s, (SD=2 min, 22 s)), GPs and nurses differed in the average number (GP=5.51, (SD=4.66); N=14.72, (SD=6.42)), content and form of questions asked. A higher frequency of questioning in nurse-led triage was found to be due to nurses’ use of CDSS to guide telephone triage. 89% of nurse questions were oriented to asking patients about their reported symptoms or to wider-information gathering, compared to 54% of GP questions. 43% of GP questions involved eliciting patient concerns or expectations, and obtaining details of medical history, compared to 11% of nurse questions. Nurses using CDSS frequently delivered questions designed as declarative statements requesting confirmation and which typically preferred a ‘no problem’ response. In contrast, GPs asked a higher proportion of interrogative questions designed to request information. Conclusions: Nurses and GPs emphasise different aspects of the clinical assessment process during telephone triage. These different styles of triage have implications for the type of information available following nurse-led or doctor-led triage, and for how patients experience triage.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 3.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Health Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Education and Lifelong Learning
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 12 May 2014 15:46
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2020 23:41
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/48077
DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-004515

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