Understanding and meeting information needs following unintentional injury: comparing the accounts of patients, carers and service providers

Objective: To explore information needs of unintentional injury patients and their carers over time, across services, and how such needs are met from the perspectives of patients, carers and service providers. Methods: Qualitative nested study within a multi-centre longitudinal study quantifying psycho-social, physical, occupational outcomes and service use and costs following a range of unintentional injuries. Semi-structured interviews conducted with 45 patients during the first year post injury, 18 of their carers and 40 providers of services. Results: Patients and carers needed information about the nature and severity of injury, prognosis, selfmanagement and further services. Information needs changed over time with the biggest difficulties being during transfer from primary to secondary care. Barriers to information provision included service providers’ time limitations and uncertainty around information provision, and patients’ reluctance to ask for information or inability to process it. Suggested improvements included provision of reassurance as well as factual information, information about further services, earlier follow-up, increased appointment times and greater involvement of families where appropriate. Conclusions: The information needs of patients and carers post injury change with time and there are a number of ways to remove gaps and barriers in current provision to meet such needs. Practice implications: Providing information on injury management, prognosis and available services and reassurance at each stage of the recovery process in secondary care and when transferring to primary care would be helpful for patients and carers. A follow-up contact soon after discharge and the opportunity to ask questions could be beneficial. Better information about the patient’s needs and ways they can help could help carers fulfil their caring role.