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Understanding and Using Health Experiences Improving patient care

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Title: Understanding and Using Health Experiences. Improving patient care

Edited by: Sue Ziebland, Angela Coulter, Joseph D Calabrese and Linda Locock

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Reviewer: Carol Singleton, Queen’s Nurse, nurse reviewer, Continuing Healthcare Restitution Team, NHS North Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group

What was it like?

The NHS is obsessed with gaining information on its patients’ experiences but sometimes lacks any insight into the best way of gathering this information at the most suitable time, place and in the most suitable way for their patients. This book describes a wide range of techniques available to understand patients’ experiences of health and illness from focus groups, observing interactions, ethnographic approaches, narrative interviewing, story gathering, patient reported outcomes, patient experience surveys, using the internet as a source of information, systematic review, harnessing patients’ awareness of adverse reactions to the drugs they take and participatory action research, exploring the strengths and limitations of each technique.

What were the highlights?

The introduction briefly describes the content of each chapter, which is useful for any readers with limited time, to enable them to start with the chapters they are particularly interested in. Each chapter has a list of further reading that includes both books and articles, references and where applicable, how to analyse the data produced and present the findings, and there is also a comprehensive index at the end of the book.

Strengths and weaknesses:

The style of writing is easy to read and follow without blinding readers with academic language, providing clear descriptions of the various techniques available and when to use them. Examples of where and when the various techniques have been used would be useful and also more references to relevant websites either listed at the end of the chapters or as a complete list at the end of the book would enable the reader to explore the techniques in more detail for themselves. The chapter on harnessing patients’ awareness of adverse reactions to the drugs they take does include numerous websites both within the text and in the further reading section, and so does the chapter on using the internet.

Who should read it?

The reader may not want or be able to use the various techniques described but anybody who works in the NHS and is interested in how they can improve the care they provide for their patients, should read this book. It is also essential reading for anybody planning a project in the NHS either as part of their work or as part of an academic course, as an invaluable source of techniques to consider when planning their study.

Understanding and Using Health Experiences Improving patient care


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