A new study suggests that patient-centered care can improve well-being during fertility treatment. Fertility patients place value on different aspects of care than their doctors. For example, a fertility patient tends to value information, communication, and access to care. A fertility doctor, on the other hand, tends to focus on organization and integration of care, including what the specialists, laboratory workers, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are doing. Well-being is the state of being comfortable, healthy, and happy. Patient-centered care focuses on the woman’s perception of well-being and downplays the importance of the physician’s organizational strategy.

Recently, a cross-sectional study, conducted by Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK, looked at 322 women and 111 men undergoing fertility diagnosis or treatment. Participants filled out a questionnaire that assessed patient-centered care, the effect infertility had on quality of life, treatment concerns, and tolerance to treatment. Survey respondents also supplied socio-demographic data and fertility information.

A cross-sectional study provides a snapshot of a large group of people at a particular time. As such, this study cannot directly determine if and how patient-centered care improves fertility rates, time to pregnancy, and pregnancy outcomes. However, this type of study can show an association between patient-centered care and the patient’s sense of well-being, which can have a positive effect on fertility and pregnancy.

Researchers in the Cardiff University study found that patient-centered care promotes well-being during fertility treatment. All aspects of patient-centered care, except for the organization of care, were positively associated with well-being. Patient-centered care also improved continuity of care, lowered treatment concerns, and increased treatment tolerability. This approach to care indirectly improved the patients’ perceptions of competence, accessibility, continuity, and communication.

To promote well-being during treatment, fertility clinics can offer patient-centered care by providing treatment-related information and allowing patients to establish a comfortable relationship with a healthcare provider they trust.

Source: Gameiro, Sofia et al. "Patient-centered care in infertility health care: Direct and indirect associations with well-being during treatment." Patient Education and Counseling. 4 Sept 2013. Web. 13 Sept 2013.

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