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Impacts of a Web-Based Course on Mental Health Clinicians' Attitudes and Communication Behaviors Related to Use of OpenNotes.

Dobscha SK, Kenyon EA, Pisciotta MK, Niederhausen M, Woods S, Denneson LM. Impacts of a Web-Based Course on Mental Health Clinicians' Attitudes and Communication Behaviors Related to Use of OpenNotes. Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.). 2019 Jun 1; 70(6):474-479.

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OBJECTIVE: The OpenNotes initiative encourages health care systems to provide patients online access to clinical notes. Some individuals have expressed concerns about use of OpenNotes in mental health care. This study evaluated changes in mental health clinicians' attitudes and communications with patients after participation in a Web-based course designed to reduce potential for unintended consequences and enhance likelihood of positive outcomes of OpenNotes. METHODS: All 251 mental health clinicians (physicians, nurse practitioners, psychologists, and social workers) of a large U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facility were invited to participate. Clinicians completed surveys at baseline and 3 months after course participation. Ten items were examined that addressed clinicians' concerns and communication behaviors with patients. Mixed-effects models with repeated measures were used to compare pre-post data. RESULTS: Of the 251 clinicians, 141 (56%) completed baseline surveys, and 113 (80%) completed baseline and postcourse surveys. Of the 141 clinicians, 63% were female, 46% were social workers, 34% were psychologists, 16% were psychiatrists, and 4% were nurse practitioners. In final adjusted models, pre-post item scores indicated significant increases in clinicians' ability to communicate with and educate patients (p < .01) and in the frequency with which clinicians educated patients about OpenNotes access (p < .001), advised patients to access and read notes (p < .01), and asked patients about questions or concerns they have with notes (p = .04). There was also a significant reduction in clinicians' worry about negative consequences (p = .05). CONCLUSIONS: A Web-based course for mental health clinicians on use of OpenNotes resulted in self-reported improvements in some concerns and in aspects of patient-clinician communication.

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