A Mixed-Method Study to Examine the Relationship Among Communication Training, Physician Communication Competency, and Stroke Patient Outcomes: A Journey of Student–Supervisor Collaboration


The purpose of the mixed-method study discussed in this case was to examine the relationship of three constructs: hospitalist continuing education, communication competencies, and stroke patient outcomes. Extant healthcare management literature and hospital administration practices underpinned the development of the three constructs. Hospitalists are physicians caring for hospitalized patients, teaching, conducting research, and leading in hospital medicine, whereas neurohospitalists are physicians caring for hospitalized patients with neurological diseases such as stroke. First, an association was examined quantitatively between hospitalist continuing education and stroke patient outcomes. Second, this quantitative relationship was validated with qualitative data that were narratives of hospitalists’ perceptions. Specifically, the qualitative analyses evaluated the impact of hospitalists’ continuing education in communication on their communication competencies and the impact of hospitalists’ communication competencies on stroke patients’ outcomes. The student–supervisor collaboration throughout the research process enabled an effective research design and execution of a research study for a doctoral dissertation. Findings from quantitative analyses answered Research Question 1: “Does hospitalist continuing education in communication affect stroke patient outcomes (readmission rate, length of stay, treatment related complication rate, disability rate, and mortality rate)?” Findings from quantitative and qualitative analyses answered Research Question 2: “Do hospitalist communication competencies that improved through continuing education efforts affect stroke patient outcomes?” Analyzing the relationships of the three study constructs also helped fill an empirical gap. Applying the quantitative–qualitative sequential mixed-method design helped us gain a deeper and more descriptive understanding of the study phenomenon than a quantitative only or qualitative only design would.

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