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Emotionally evocative patients in the emergency department: a mixed methods investigation of providers' reported emotions and implications for patient safety.


ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Emergency department (ED) physicians and nurses frequently interact with emotionally evocative patients, which can impact clinical decision-making and behaviour. This study introduces well-established methods from social psychology to investigate ED providers' reported emotional experiences and engagement in their own recent patient encounters, as well as perceived effects of emotion on patient care. METHODS:Ninety-four experienced ED providers (50 physicians and 44 nurses) vividly recalled and wrote about three recent patient encounters (qualitative data): one that elicited anger/frustration/irritation (angry encounter), one that elicited happiness/satisfaction/appreciation (positive encounter), and one with a patient with a mental health condition (mental health encounter). Providers rated their emotions and engagement in each encounter (quantitative data), and reported their perception of whether and how their emotions impacted their clinical decision-making and behaviour (qualitative data). RESULTS:Providers generated 282 encounter descriptions. Emotions reported in angry and mental health encounters were remarkably similar, highly negative, and associated with reports of low provider engagement compared with positive encounters. Providers reported their emotions influenced their clinical decision-making and behaviour most frequently in angry encounters, followed by mental health and then positive encounters. Emotions in angry and mental health encounters were associated with increased perceptions of patient safety risks; emotions in positive encounters were associated with perceptions of higher quality care. CONCLUSIONS:Positive and negative emotions can influence clinical decision-making and impact patient safety. Findings underscore the need for (1) education and training initiatives to promote awareness of emotional influences and to consider strategies for managing these influences, and (2) a comprehensive research agenda to facilitate discovery of evidence-based interventions to mitigate emotion-induced patient safety risks. The current work lays the foundation for testing novel interventions.

SUBMITTER: Isbell LM 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7382988 | BioStudies | 2020-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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