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Feeling Heard and Understood

Learn more about feeling heard and understood.

Required Reading Abstract

1 – Gramling, R., Stanek, S., Ladwig, S., Gajary-Coots, E., Cimino, J., Anderson, W., … & Garner, K. K. (2016). Feeling heard and understood: a patient-reported quality measure for the inpatient palliative care setting. Journal of pain and symptom management, 51(2), 150-154.


As endorsed by the palliative care “Measuring What Matters” initiative, capturing patients’ direct assessment of their care is essential for ongoing quality reporting and improvement. Fostering an environment where seriously ill patients feel heard and understood is of crucial importance to modern health care.

To describe the development and performance of a self-report field measure for seriously ill patients to report how well they feel heard and understood in the hospital environment.

As part of a larger ongoing cohort study of inpatient palliative care, we developed and administered the following point-of-care item: “Over the past two days, how much have you felt heard and understood by the doctors, nurses and hospital staff?” (completely, quite a bit, moderately, slightly, not at all). Participants completed the measure before and the day after palliative care consultation. For the postconsultation version, we changed the time frame from “past two days” to “today.”

One hundred sixty patients with advanced cancer completed the preconsultation assessment, and 87% of them completed the postconsultation version. Responses encompassed full use of the ordinal scale, did not exhibit ceiling or floor effects, and showed improvement from preassessment to postassessment. The item was quick to administer and easy for patients to complete.

The “Heard & Understood” item is a promising self-report quality measure for the inpatient palliative care setting.

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Palliative Care: Supporting Patients Living with Serious Illness

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