Trust, along with treatment, is crucial to Hypothyroid patient satisfaction.
A person centred relationship between patients and their healthcare provider(s) must foster trust. Patients need to have confidence and trust in their healthcare providers to meet their care and treatment needs. This is why effective treatment by trusted professionals is one of the Picker Principles of Person Centred care – a framework that addresses every facet of patient and service user care.
Over the last few decades, patients with Hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of certain crucial hormones, have often reported dissatisfaction and poor quality of life, with studies revealing people who experience persistent symptoms. The reason for this has often been attributed to the ineffectiveness of treatment. An international survey – E-Mode Patient self-Assessment of THYroid therapy (E-MPATHY) – was designed by Picker, Thyroid Federation International (a non-profit network of patient support organisations), and hypothyroid experts to explore the impact of hypothyroidism on patient satisfaction and experiences with healthcare professionals. The online survey was conducted between November 2020 and February 2021, with 3915 people from 68 countries completing the survey.
Almost half (49%) of respondents said they were “slightly” or “very” dissatisfied with the overall care and treatment they received for hypothyroidism. Over half of all respondents (54%) felt that they had been given little or no information in relation to the side effects of their medication and/or any interactions with other medicines and supplements. Strikingly, just under one-third (32.4%) of patients felt that they “always” had confidence and trust in healthcare staff, which may indicate a fractured relationship between hypothyroid patients and healthcare professionals. However, it was beyond the scope of this survey to understand the reason(s) for the lack of trust, and therefore requiring further investigation.
The findings from E-MPATHY have helped dispel the theory that treatment type alone is responsible for patient satisfaction and indicates a link between a positive experience with healthcare staff and greater patient satisfaction. This includes good communication, having enough time to interact with staff, receiving adequate information about medication, and minimizing the number of blood tests.
Jacqueline Jonklaas and Antonio Carlos Bianco wrote the editorial ‘Enhancing the Patient Voice: Quality of Life, Satisfaction, and Preference during Treatment of Hypothyroidism’ for Thyroid in which they say of E-MPATHY, “the results of this analysis are intriguing as they not only confirm some prior observations but also generate results that differ from other previous findings. The type of treatment for hypothyroidism (levothyroxine alone versus combination therapies), was not associated with patient satisfaction”. They continue, “However, the investigators found that the healthcare team interaction with the patient was strongly associated with satisfaction with treatment… The finding that various aspects of a patient’s interaction with their physician and healthcare team affected QOL and patient satisfaction is encouraging, as this holds the promise that enhancements in these relationships could have a positive impact on hypothyroidism therapy”.
This shows that further to gaining a greater understanding of the hypothyroid patient experience, E-MPATHY is a convincing reminder that satisfaction and the patient experience can significantly impact health outcomes. It should, therefore, never be overlooked when considering care and treatment, with each interaction between a patient and a healthcare professional inspiring a sense of confidence, ease, and trust to ensure the best possible person centred care and outcomes for patients.
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