Communication enhancement: nurse and patient satisfaction outcomes in a complex continuing care facility


  • Katherine McGilton PhD RN,

  • Heather Irwin Robinson PhD RN,

  • Veronique Boscart MEd MScN RN,

  • Lily Spanjevic MN RN

Katherine McGilton,
Department of Research,
Toronto Rehabilitation Institute,


Aims.  This paper presents an evaluation of a communication enhancement intervention on staff and patients in a complex continuing care facility.

Background.  The importance of effective communication as a fundamental element of nursing has been emphasized and is regarded as integral to the provision of quality patient care. For people residing in complex continuing care (similar to long-term care facilities), opportunities for socialization occur primarily during interactions or communication with staff, and these interactions have been found to be limited. One way to improve nursing staff communication is through a communication enhancement intervention.

Methods.  Twenty-one nursing staff members (Registered Nurses, Registered Practical Nurses and healthcare aides) working in a complex continuing care environment and 16 patients participated in this study, conducted in the summer of 2003. A repeated measures design was used to evaluate the effects of the communication enhancement intervention on outcomes. Data were collected from patients and nurses at baseline, 5 weeks into the intervention and at 10 weeks after the intervention. Nurse outcome variables included nurses’ job satisfaction and their relationships with patients; patient outcome variables included two measures of patient satisfaction with care.

Results.  Nursing staff felt closer to their patients (F(2,40) = 3·0, P = 0·045) following the intervention and reported higher levels of job satisfaction (F(2,40) = 4·1, P = 0·02). No changes were found in the level of patient satisfaction with care.

Conclusions.  Our results suggest that nursing staff can feel better about their job and about their patients as they enhance their communication skills. Understanding the barriers to finding time to talk with patients for a few minutes a day, outside of direct hands-on caregiving, requires further exploration.