We sought to understand how health coaches affect the work of primary care clinicians and influence their perception of patient care. As a mixed methods hypothesis-generating study, we administered a structured post-visit survey and conducted in-depth individual interviews with primary care clinicians who worked with health coaches at two urban community health centers. Survey responses were compared using t tests. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using Atlas.ti software and modified grounded theory. Surveys were completed by 15 of 17 clinicians for 61% of eligible patient visits (269/441). Compared to usual care patients, clinicians rated visits with health-coached patients as less demanding (2.44 vs. 3.06, p < .001) and were more likely to feel that they had adequate time with their patient (3.96 vs. 3.57, p < .001). Qualitative findings expanded upon these results and uncovered four key health coach activities thought to improve patient care. Through developing a rapport with patients over time and working with patients between medical visits, health coaches (a) empower patients by offering self-management support, (b) bridge communication gaps between clinicians and patients, (c) assist patients in navigating the health care system, and (d) act as a point of contact for patients. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved)
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