Communicating in the pre-hospital emergency environment

Eadie, Kathy, Carlyon, Marissa, Stephens, Joanne, & Wilson, Matthew (2013) Communicating in the pre-hospital emergency environment. Australian Health Review, 37(2), pp. 140-146.

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Aim. To develop and evaluate the implementation of a communication board for paramedics to use with patients as an augmentative or alternative communication tool to address communication needs of patients in the pre-hospital setting.

Method. A double-sided A4-size communication board was designed specifically for use in the pre-hospital setting by the Queensland Ambulance Service and Disability and Community Care Services. One side of the board contains expressive messages that could be used by both the patient and paramedic. The other side contains messages to support patients’ understanding and interaction tips for the paramedic. The communication board was made available in every ambulance and patient transport vehicle in the Brisbane Region.

Results. A total of 878 paramedics completed a survey that gauged which patient groups they might use the communication board with. The two most common groups were patients from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and children. Staff reported feeling confident in using the board, and 72% of interviewed paramedics agreed that the communication board was useful for aiding communication with patients. Feedback from paramedics suggests that the board is simple to use, reduces patient frustration and improves communication.

Conclusion. These results suggest that a communication board can be applied in the pre-hospital setting to support communication success with patients.

What is known about the topic? It is imperative that communication between patient and paramedic is clear and effective. Research has shown that communication boards have been effective with people with temporary or permanent communication difficulties.

What does this paper add? This is the first paper outlining the development and use of a communication board by paramedics in the pre-hospital setting in Australia. The paper details the design of the communication board for the unique pre-hospital environment. The paper provides some preliminary data on the use of the communication board with certain patient groups and its effectiveness as an alternative communication tool.

What are the implications for practitioners? The findings support the use of the tool as a viable option in supporting the communication between paramedics and a range of patients. It is not suggested that this communication board will meet the complete communication needs of any individual in this environment, but it is hoped that the board’s presence within the Queensland Ambulance Service may result in paramedics introducing the board on occasions where communication with a patient is challenging.

Impact and interest:

2 citations in Scopus
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2 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 59157
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: communication board, complex communication needs, paramedics
DOI: 10.1071/AH12155
ISSN: 0156-5788
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Clinical Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 CSIRO Publishing
Deposited On: 16 Apr 2013 22:41
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2013 13:58

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