Many patients receive IV infusions in outpatient clinics, but the number of nurses available in these institutions is limited, making it difficult to address all aspects of a patient’s needs. “The outpatient infusion room accommodates many patients and their families, but there are often problems with the noisy environment and high crowd density,” explains Jiao Wei. “These issues can result in clinician–patient disputes.” Recent data show that the average outpatient infusion room receives more than 300 patients every day, but adding a patient’s accompanying family members or caregivers increases the average daily flow to 500-800 people per day.

Previous research suggests a key cause of disputes between patients, their families, and nurses in infusion rooms is the lack of communication skills among nurses. “This can lead to emotional instability for patients and their families, which in turn can damage the clinician–patient relationship,” says Wei. Considering these issues, nursing service strategies implemented in outpatient infusion rooms need to be widely applicable and timely. Nursing staff must be able to complete their work within a limited timeframe, but this can introduce risks. In addition, failing to achieve the ideal nursing service work has led to a high incidence of nurse–patient disputes and other incidents.

Analyzing Effects of Nursing Communication Ability

Improving communication skills for outpatient nurses may enhance the treatment experience for patients and their families and could help reduce the incidence of adverse events. Wei and colleagues conducted a study, published in Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine, that explored the effect of nursing communication ability in outpatient infusion rooms on the treatment experience of outpatients. Another aim of this research was to provide some reference for future nursing strategies.

For the study, communication skills were assessed among nurses in infusion rooms using the Clinical Communication Skills Scale for Nurses. Based on these scores, nurses were categorized into one of four groups. Group A had scores of less than 65; group B had scores of 65 to less than 80; group C had scores of 80 to less than 95, and group D had scores of 95 or higher. Mental toughness was evaluated using Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale Chinese (CD-RISC) scores, whereas hope level was assessed using Herth Hope Index (HHI) scores. In addition, the authors reviewed the incidence of negative events, such as nurse–patient disputes, and findings from nursing satisfaction surveys during patient visits.

Improved Communication Enhances Mental Toughness & Hope

According to the results, the four groups of CD-RISC and HHI total scores were ranked highest for nurses categorized to group D and lowest for those in group A. Among all groups, CD-RISC and HHI scores were ranked from highest to lowest as groups D, C, B, and A, respectively. Simply put, scores on resilience and hope scales were highest among nurses with the highest scores on the Clinical Communication Skills Scale for Nurses. The study team also observed a positive correlation between resilience dimension scores of family members’ CD-RISC, the toughness, strength, and optimism dimension scores of the HHI, and the nurses’ communication dimension scores.

The incidence of negative events was higher in group A nurses than in any of the other groups, according to the investigators. Group A nurses saw two cases of nurse–patient disputes, as well as complaints and patients leaving before completing the infusion. Conversely, group D nurses did not have any negative events; groups B and C had complaints but no nurse–patient disputes or patients leaving without completing their infusion. Furthermore, patient satisfaction with care was lower in group A than for any other group (Table).

Efforts Needed to Improve Nurses’ Communication

Collectively, the study results demonstrate the importance of maintaining effective, high-quality communication in infusion centers. “Our findings are a good indication of the critical value of improving nurse communication skills in outpatient infusion rooms,” says Wei.

More research is needed to determine if improved nurse communication skills can definitively enhance the treatment experience for patients and their families in infusion rooms and to identify other areas for enhancement and refinement in the future.