Shared decision making about blood tests: Secondary analysis of video-recorded primary care consultations
Martin JE., Watson J., Barnes RK.
© 2020 British Journal of General Practice. Background: Awareness of the importance of shared decision making (SDM) is widespread; however, little research has focused on discussions surrounding investigations, despite increasing laboratory testing in primary care. Aim: To explore the discussion of blood tests in routine primary care consultations. Design and setting: A secondary analysis of 50 video-recorded routine primary care consultations, linked surveys, and records data (all from the One in a Million [OiaM] archive). The consultations were taken by 22 GPs across 12 practices. Method: A coding scheme was developed, using qualitative content analysis, to explore discussion of blood tests in transcripts of recorded consultations. Codes focused on instigating testing, the extent of SDM, and how results were explained. Survey data were used to compare patients' pre-visit expectations with consultation content. Medical records were reviewed to compare tests discussed with those ordered. Results: In 36 out of 50 consultations that discussed ordering blood tests, 11 patients (31%) hinted that they wanted a blood test; however, none asked explicitly. Only four patients (11%) were offered alternative options. In 29 cases (81%) the GP gave some explanation of the indication, but only in six cases (17%) were the limitations of testing explained. Only 10 out of 31 patients (32%) were informed about all blood tests ordered. Of the 23 out of 50 consultations in which results were conveyed, the GP gave no explanation of the results in six cases (26%). Thirteen patients (57%) were only informed of an assessment of the results (for example, 'normal'), rather than the actual results. Conclusion: A lack of information dissemination and SDM exists around ordering tests and conveying results. Promoting SDM could reduce unnecessary testing and improve patientcentred care.