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Patient-centred communication intervention study to evaluate nurse-patient interactions in complex continuing care

Katherine S McGilton12*, Riva Sorin-Peters3, Souraya Sidani4, Veronique Boscart5, Mary Fox6 and Elizabeth Rochon7

Author affiliations

1 Department of Research, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-UHN, E.W, Bickle Centre for Complex Continuing Care, 130 Dunn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M6K 2R7, Canada

2 L. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, 155 College Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5T 1P8, Canada

3 Private Practice, Speech-Language Pathology, Thornhill, Ontario, L4J 5J2, Canada

4 Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing, Ryerson University, 350 Victoria Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5B 2K3, Canada

5 School of Health & Life Sciences and Community Services, Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, 299 Doon Valley Drive, Kitchener, Ontario, N2G 4M4, Canada

6 School of Nursing, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario, M3J 1P3, Canada

7 Department of Speech-Language Pathology, University of Toronto, 160-500 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 1V7, Canada

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Citation and License

BMC Geriatrics 2012, 12:61  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-12-61

Published: 11 October 2012



Communication impairment is a frequent consequence of stroke. Patients who cannot articulate their needs respond with frustration and agitation, resulting in poor optimization of post-stroke functions. A key component of patient-centred care is the ability of staff to communicate in a way that allows them to understand the patient’s needs. We developed a patient-centred communication intervention targeting registered and unregulated nursing staff caring for complex continuing care patients with communication impairments post stroke. Research objectives include 1) examining the effects of the intervention on patients’ quality of life, depression, satisfaction with care, and agitation; and (2) examining the extent to which the intervention improves staff’s attitudes and knowledge in caring for patients with communication impairments. The intervention builds on a previous pilot study.


A quasi-experimental repeated measures non-equivalent control group design in a complex continuing care facility is being used. Patients with a communication impairment post-stroke admitted to the facility are eligible to participate. All staff nurses are eligible. Baseline data are collected from staff and patients. Follow-up will occur at 1 and 3 months post-intervention. Subject recruitment and data collection from 60 patients and 30 staff will take approximately 36 months. The Patient-Centred Communication Intervention consists of three components: (1) development of an individualized patient communication care plan; (2) a one-day workshop focused on communication and behavioural management strategies for nursing staff; and (3) a staff support system. The intervention takes comprehensive patient assessments into account to inform the development of communication and behavioural strategies specifically tailored to each patient.


The Patient-Centred Communication Intervention will provide staff with strategies to facilitate interactions with patients and to minimize agitation associated with considerable stress. The improvement of these interactions will lead to a reduction of agitation, which has the additional significance of increasing patients’ well-being, quality of life, and satisfaction with care.

Trial registration Identifier NCT01654029

Aphasia; Communication intervention; Complex continuing care; Individualized communication strategies; Knowledge translation strategy; Nurse-patient interactions; Stroke