A Research Study of Improving Patient’s First Point of Contact with
Primary Healthcare Services
The title of this study is “Improving Patient’s First Point of Contact with Primary Healthcare Services”.
Invitation to take part in the study:
We would like to invite you to take part in this research study that will be carried out at the Oxford Terrace & Rawling Road General Practice for a two-week period between 19 / 06 / 2015 and 31 / 07 / 2015.
Please take time to read the following information. You are free to decide whether or not to take part in this study. If you choose not to take part, this will not affect the care and services you receive from your general practice.
If after reading this information sheet, you would like to know more about this study, or if you have any questions, you are very welcome to get in touch with us. Our contact details can be found at the end of this file.
A brief summary of the study:
We (the research team) understand that patients deserve high quality healthcare services at their GP clinics. One important part of these services is the communications between patients and GP receptionists. However, very few studies have looked into this area, and it is not at all clear whether patients and GP receptionists communicate effectively.
In order to have a better understanding of how patients and GP receptionists communicate with each other, we will record and analyse telephone conversations between patients and GP receptionists that take place at the Oxford Terrace & Rawling Road Medical Group General Practice. This will help us to find out how we may be able to improve the communications so that patients may receive better healthcare services at their GP clinics.
What will be involved in the study?
During the two-week study period, if you call the number of 0191 477 2169 (The contact number of the Oxford Terrace & Rawling Road Medical Group), your call may be recorded and used in the study with your informed permission.
We (the researchers) will ensure that we have your informed permission for recording your call. If there is any doubt that you may not have given your informed permission for a recording, that recording will be deleted from all devices, and will not form part of the study. In addition, if you are calling the general practice under the following circumstances, your calls will not be recorded:
What types of phone calls will NOT be recorded?
If you are calling the general practice under the following circumstances, your call will Not be recorded for this study:
- You are under 18 years of age.
- You are calling on behalf of another person.
- Your call, or part of your call, is about another person’s healthcare information.
- Your call does not concern any healthcare services or any healthcare matters.
- You express to the GP receptionist that you do not want your phone call to be recorded.
- You express to the GP receptionist that you are not sure, or cannot decide if you want your phone call to be recorded.
- You give no explicit permission for your call to be recorded.
- The receptionist feels that they have not communicated the purposes of the recording to you effectively.
If I tell the GP receptionist that I am happy for the phone call to be recorded, but I later change my mind, what will happen to the recorded message?
- If you change your mind during the phone conversation, please tell the receptionist that you do not want the recording to continue. Any recorded information will be deleted accordingly.
- If you change your mind after the phone conversation, please get in touch with us (the researchers).
- The recording device will log the time and date for every recording. This will help the researchers to locate a particular recording if required.
- If we can locate your phone recording, we will delete that record safely and completely.
- If we cannot locate your recording (for example, you did not give your personal details during the phone call), then we will explain the situation with you, and ensure you that none of the existing recorded information can be traced back to you personally. You can find the researchers’ information at the end of this document.
What would taking part involve?
Between 19 / 06 / 2015 and 31 / 07 / 2015, if you call the Oxford Terrace & Rawling Road Medical Group on the number of 0191 477 2169, you will hear this pre-recorded message:
“Hello, thank you for calling the Oxford Terrace & Rawling Road Medical Group. Between the 19th of June and the 31st of July this practice is involved in a research study that aims to improve the service it provides. With your permission your call will be recorded and may be used by researchers at Northumbria University. If you do not want your call to be recorded, please say so to the receptionist.
For further information about the study, including the information sheet and debrief sheet, please visit the practice’s website, or enquire at the practice’s main Reception Desk. Thank you.”
After this message, you will continue to hear the usual options for selecting the clinic’s services. When you have selected an option, you will be connected to a GP receptionist. The receptionist will ask you:
“Hello, are you happy for your call to be recorded for research and training purposes?”
- If you are happy with this, please say so to the receptionist. The receptionist will then confirm if your age, and the reason you are calling satisfy the recording criteria. If you call is suitable for recording, your call will be recorded and you can simply carry on the conversation with the receptionists as usual.
- If you would like more information about this study, please say so to the receptionist and s/he will be able to direct you to further information accordingly.
- If you do not want your call to be recorded, or if you are not sure / cannot decide, please say so to the receptionist, and your call will not be recorded. You can then carry on your conversation with the receptionist as usual.
What are the possible benefits of taking part?
The telephone recordings will help us (the researchers) to better understand if the communications are effective and if patients receive the information, support and services that they require. Your taking part will help us identify possible areas where healthcare services may be further improved.
What are the possible disadvantages and risks of taking part?
We understand that sometimes people may feel uncomfortable to have their conversation recorded.
If you feel distressed, uncomfortable or unhappy during any part of recording, please tell the receptionist that you would like to stop the recording. You don’t need to give any reason.
If you feel upset in anyway due to participation in this study and would find it helpful, the researchers will provide you with information and services that are able to offer you support. This includes the counselling services available at the local healthcare services, as well as helpful websites and charitable organisations.
What will happen if I don’t want to carry on with the study?
Your participation in this study is entirely voluntary. You are free to withdraw from the study at any time, and do not need to give a reason. This will not affect the care and services you receive from your general practice.
How will my information be kept confidential?
Your taking part in this study will be kept strictly secure and confidential. All personal information will be protected and anonymised according to the Ethics Framework and regulations laid out by Northumbria University, UK, as well as by the NHS England.
Once the recordings are fully transcribed, all personal data will be anonymised. This means that the data cannot be traced back to any specific individual.
What will happen to the results of this study?
We (the research team) will randomly select up to 400 recorded conversations. The rest of the recordings will be safely deleted and erased from all devices.
The selected recordings will be transcribed by Dictate2Us – an ICO certified, professional data transcription company. Some of the company’s clients include the NHS, Ministry of Justice and the British Council. The company boosts its high-level, military-grade encryption similar to online banking services. If you would like to know more about Dictate2Us, you can visit their website on: https://www.dictate2us.com/.
We will remove all personal information from the transcribed information. This means none of the remaining information can be traced back to you personally. We may use the information for the purpose of academic publications. Our academic publications may further be used to develop future training materials in order to improve GP receptionists’ communication and interactions with patients.
Information collected from this study will be stored securely in Northumbria University’s secure network servers that require the researchers’ passwords for access. All information collected from this study (including the recordings and transcriptions) will be securely destroyed three years after the publication and dissemination of the study. No original recordings or transcriptions of the study will be used for commercial purposes.
Who is organising and funding this study?
This study is organised and funded by Northumbria University, UK.
Who will carry out this study?
The study will be carried out by a team of researchers. The team has two people: Dr. Mimi Huang and Dr. Rachel Edwards. We are researchers at the University of Northumbria in Newcastle upon Tyne. We dedicate ourselves to the promotion of better and more effective communications in healthcare services.
How have patients, GPs, other healthcare practitioners and the public been involved in this study?
We (the researchers) have actively involved the following people during the design of this study: the practice manager, the practice’s staff team (including the receptionist team), as well as the practice’s health champions (the health champions include patients as well as people who actively involved in the local voluntary healthcare communities).
These people have given us very positive feedback and helpful advice on how this study should be designed to benefit patients and healthcare services. We have fully taken on board their feedback and advice.
Who has reviewed this study?
This study has been reviewed by the following bodies:
Northumbria University’s Ethics Committee
Northumbria University’s HEIF project management team
The Research Leads in the Humanities Department, Northumbria University
The staff team and health champions at the Oxford Terrace & Rawling Road General Practice
The NHS’s Research Ethics Committee
The NHS’s Research & Development Office
What if I have difficulties in understanding information in English?
Before the study takes place, if you prefer reading the Information Sheet in a different language, please contact the researchers (The researchers’ contact details can be found at the end of this document), and they will arrange the access to the information sheet in your preferred language.
During the study, if you require further assistance for communicating with the telephone receptionist, the practice may arrange the “Language Line” service for you. “Language Line” is an interpretation service that supports callers who cannot or prefer not to speak English.
Will I learn about the results of this study?
After the completion of the study, we will write up an informal report to share our initial findings. We will publish the report on the practice website at the end of July or in early August, 2015.
What will happen if the information I provide during my participation of the study may lead to disclosure of unprofessional or harmful practice by a member of staff?
During the study, if certain details are revealed by the participants that may lead to disclosure of unprofessional or harmful practice, the information will be passed onto the Practice Manager and her team at the Oxford Terrace and Rawling Road Medical Group. The practice manger and her team will take appropriate action to investigate the instances according to practice policies and procedures. Where necessary, the instances may be reported to relevant authorities for further review and investigation.
Who can I contact for further information about this study?
If you have any questions regarding any aspects of this study, please do not hesitate to get in touch with:
| Dr. Mimi Huang
Faculty of Arts, Design and Social Sciences
Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Dr. Rachel Edwards
Faculty of Arts, Design and Social Sciences
Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Is there an independent contact point where I can seek advice or further details about taking part in this study, or if I wish to make a complaint or report an incident concerning this study?
Yes, the independent contact point for this study is:
Ms Andrea Percival
Faculty Ethics Coordinator; Faculty of Arts, Design and Social Sciences; Northumbria University
Participant Debrief Sheet for Participating Patient Participants
At Oxford Terrace and Rawling Road Medical Group General Practice
The title of the study:
Improving Patient’s First Point of Contact with Primary Healthcare Services
Many thanks for your contribution to the recording of patient-receptionist phone conversations.
As you are aware, the purpose of this part of the study is to better understand how patients communicate with GP receptionists. The phone recordings will help the researchers to better understand how patients’ first point of contact with their GP clinics can be further improved.
We (the researchers) would like to remind you that your participation in this study is entirely voluntary, and you are free to withdraw from the study without needing to give a reason. If you do decide to withdraw your recording, please get in touch with us directly. Our contacts are available at the end of this document. If we can locate your phone recording, we will delete that record securely and completely. If we cannot locate your recording (for example, you did not give your personal details during the phone call), then we will explain the situation with you, and ensure you that none of the existing recorded information can be traced back to you personally.
We will not provide individual feedback; however, we will present an informal report of the study’s initial findings on the practice’s website after the completion of the study. The estimated time for the publication of the informal report is the end of July / early August, 2015.
We would also like to remind you that all information collected in this study will be kept confidential. All information that you provide will be anonymised. This means that the recorded information cannot be traced back to your personally.
If you feel distressed, uncomfortable or unhappy due to your participation in the study, you can withdraw from this study without giving a reason. If you feel upset in anyway due to the participation of this study and would find it helpful, we will provide you with information and services that are able to offer you support. This includes the counselling services at the local healthcare services, as well as helpful websites and charitable organisations.
The results of the study may be used for the production of academic publications and dissemination. Relevant academic publications may further be used for the development of training materials and professional consultancy services for improving healthcare communication in the healthcare sector.
In the case that you would like to have independent opinions / advice of this study, or to register a complaint if you have any concerns about the ethical issues in this study, please get in touch with:
Ms Jacci Burton
Faculty Ethics Coordinator
Arts, Design and Social Sciences
Northumbria University, NE1 8ST
If you would like any further information about the study, please get in touch with us (the researchers) via the contacts below.
Many thanks again for your assistance.