Background & Aims: Providers need to communicate projected response rates effectively to enable patients with hepatitis C virus to make informed decisions about therapy. This study used interactional sociolinguistics (1) to evaluate how gastroenterologists and allied health professionals communicate information regarding response rates to antiviral therapy, (2) to determine how these discussions relate to where the patient is in the continuum of evaluation and treatment, (3) to assess whether patients were aligned with providers in their perceptions of response rates after office visits, and (4) to identify factors that improve provider-patient alignment. Methods: Gastroenterologists, allied health professionals, and patients with hepatitis C virus were videotaped and audiotaped during regularly scheduled visits. Postvisit interviews were conducted separately with patients and providers. Visits and postvisits were transcribed and analyzed using validated sociolinguistic techniques. Results: The phase of hepatitis C virus treatment shaped the benchmarks of response talk, although across the treatment continuum providers overwhelmingly made strategic use of positive statistics, providing motivation. In postvisit interviews, 55% of providers and patients were aligned on response rates. Patients with a favorable outcome and patients who asked response-related questions in the visit were more likely to be aligned with providers. Areas identified for improvement included the tendency to discuss response rates before an individualized assessment could be made, balancing motivation and accuracy, and assessing the patient's perspective before delivering any bad news, if necessary. Conclusions: Sociolinguistic analysis provides a powerful tool to evaluate provider-patient interactions and to identify ways to improve in-office communication regarding antiviral therapy.
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