Illustrations may help clarify the consent process better than mere words.

Bronchoscopy Procedure

Can Graphics Improve Patient Satisfaction With Bronchoscopy?

A procedure-specific graphic narrative, supplementing the consent process, may be a “simple tool” to improve patient satisfaction.

That first “conscious surveillance” bronchoscopy after a lung transplant can be a stressful experience, and it turns out that providing the patient with illustrations of the specifics of the procedure has been shown to help ease patients through the consent process.

The informed consent process — in which a patient is given details about the procedure he or she is about to undergo and gives permission for it to go forward — is a critical step in any medical procedure. Helping a patient smoothly navigate that part of the process is essential in healthcare.

While the illustrations proved effective in the consent process, researchers hoped they would provide additional benefits in alleviating stress before and after the procedure. They identified little benefit there, however.

Dr. Benjamin Seeliger and others conducted a trial and documented their findings in a paper entitled, “Graphic Narrative Based Informed Consent For Bronchoscopy Improves Satisfaction in Patients After Lung-Transplantation: A Randomized Controlled Trial.”

Their trial included an analysis of 59 patients in Germany. Satisfaction was higher in the intervention group of 30 who received the graphic narrative. The anxiety level before the informed consent and after were consistent across both groups. There were no significant differences in adverse experience during the bronchoscopy between the control and intervention groups.

A procedure-specific graphic narrative, supplementing the consent process, may be a “simple tool” to improve patient satisfaction, they write.

These findings come as lung transplants in the U.S. are on the rise. The numbers have been steadily increasing since 2012 due to an increase in donors and improved treatments for end-stage lung diseases, according to recent data from the Cleveland Clinic.

The number of lung transplants in the U.S. increased 7.3 percent from 2018 to 2019, according to the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS). UNOS reported 2,714 lung transplants in the U.S. in 2019.

In a separate study, Dr. Noah Lechtzin, from Johns Hopkins University, and others also documented the importance of so-called process of care measures in improving patient satisfaction in flexible bronchoscopy. Their research,  entitled “Patient Satisfaction With Bronchoscopy,” was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Providing better information to patients and making the bronchoscope insertion process as painless as possible were two measures targeted.

In a separate study focused on coronary procedures, Dr. A. Brand and others found that medical graphic narratives in the form of comics helped communicate complex information to patients in German hospitals. Patients who received informed consent that included the comics “had significantly better comprehension,” according to the research.

Not only did that study find improved understanding, anxiety levels also were improved.

“Our results suggest beneficial effects of medical graphic narratives on patient comprehension, anxiety, and satisfaction,” the authors wrote in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The graphics allow patients to acquire and process information at their own speed and to reread and reflect on complex paragraphs as needed, thereby improving understanding and recall.

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