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How healthcare practitioners and key opinion leaders discuss endometriosis

How healthcare professionals and key opinion leaders discuss endometriosis

Impacting almost 10% of reproductive age women and girls globally, endometriosis is relatively common. However, it’s a condition which is historically difficult to diagnose, adding stress to health populations experiencing painful, unexplained symptoms. We looked to text data to identify what could be creating this dissatisfaction.

Endometriosis is where cells similar to womb lining develop in other areas of the body. The range of symptoms caused by the condition makes it difficult for healthcare practitioners to identify, with diagnoses taking an average of seven years. This creates a perfect storm for healthcare populations, who are living with debilitating pain and no explanation for it.

While improved diagnosis and treatment is a matter for medical science, better management of patient experience is within the gift of healthcare practitioners and providers. The way to improve quality of experience is through examining qualitative – i.e. text – data. To investigate what resonates with health populations impacted by endometriosis, we gathered online discussions about the condition from both key opinion leaders and generalist practitioners through a social listening platform. We then uploaded both sets of data to our dedicated medical text analysis tool.

Relative Insight Medical has a specialized healthcare processing pipeline which puts words with medical-specific meanings into context. The platform examines the differences between topics, phrases, words, grammar and emotion between two or more sets of data and identifies what’s more likely to appear in each – assigning a relative difference score to show which individual elements are more likely to feature.

Using the tool to analyze online conversations pinpointed clear differences between how both groups talk about the condition.

Healthcare professionals focus on the condition clinically

When generalist healthcare practitioners talk about endometriosis, discussions focus on diagnosis, symptoms and treatments. Relative Insight Medical features 33 health-specific topics – all but one of these topics were more likely to be used by generalist practitioners, demonstrating the clinical focus of their discussions.

They were more likely to use words and phrases related to ‘treatment’ (2.3x relative difference), ‘administration’ (6.8x), ‘hemic and immune system symptoms’ (11.1x), ‘skin symptoms’ (18.3x) and ‘neuro & physiological symptoms’ (5.8x). Words making up these topics included ‘exposure’, ‘dosage’, ‘ulcer’, ‘blood’, ‘fever’ and ‘fatigue’.

Ideally, we would like to develop a blood test as an even simpler means of providing early information on the presence or absence of endometriosis.

This clinical language also extends into how practitioners talk about healthcare populations. They’re 7.3x more likely to use 3rd person pronouns, such as ‘he’, ‘she’ or ‘they’.

A 23-year-old woman presents to the emergency room with severe lower right abdominal pain for the last six hours. She had intermittent lower abdominal pain for three days but never been severe like this time.

While it’s understandable that generalist medical staff discuss endometriosis in this way, the impersonal and clinical manner of conversation might be part of the reason for the disconnect which exists between health professionals and patients when it comes to this particular condition.

Overall, generalist healthcare practitioners were 10.3x more likely to use language of a clinical and impersonal nature than key opinion leaders.

Endometriosis key opinion leaders offer empathy

The difference in how key endometriosis opinion leaders used language was stark. This group featured a combination of medical specialists and leading campaigners around the condition. While this different mix of people will speak with greater variety than a group solely made up of medical professionals, the stark difference in how they talk about the condition is striking.

This group’s discussions only overindexed on one medical topic: ‘surgery’. They were 2.0x more likely to use words related to procedures, such as ‘excision’, ‘laparoscopy’ and the word ‘surgery’ itself.

It’s so satisfying to receive pics from our patients whom we could help in their journey to become parents. It becomes more rewarding when the patient was told ‘you can never conceive, you will need a hysterectomy or only open surgery can be done.’

Analyzing online conversations demonstrated that a far greater amount of experts’ discussions showed empathy towards health populations. They were 4.0x more likely to use words related to ‘understanding’ – such as ‘awareness’ – and used the word ‘support’ 11.2x more. Key opinion leaders also used words related to ‘bravery’ infinitely more, including ‘courage’ and ‘brave’, again demonstrating greater sympathy with sufferers.

It takes courage to have conversations about with people around you – if they don’t understand endometriosis, they don’t understand you.

As well as raising awareness about health populations’ battle with the condition, key opinion leaders also want to educate other healthcare practitioners and the public about endometriosis. They were 9.3x more likely to use the word ‘learn’, highlighting the importance of knowledge in making life easier for people living with it.

During #endometriosisactionmonth, we call on healthcare practitioners to take the opportunity to learn more about #endometriosis, and share relevant resources with their peers and colleagues.

Key opinion leaders used these linguistic features 6.4x more overall.

Analyzing online conversations highlights communication challenges

By using text analytics to examine endometriosis discussions, we’ve identified differences in conversations which could account for the disengagement felt by affected health populations.

Key endometriosis opinion leaders are 6.4x more likely to use language which sympathizes and empathizes with patients. They offer support and, when highlighting more medical-specific points, discuss action health populations can take to resolve or ease symptoms.

Conversely, non-specialist practitioners talk about the condition clinically and impersonally. They are 10.3x more likely to use language of this nature. While it’s understandable that practitioners would focus on diagnosis and the physical impact of the condition given how difficult it is to identify, they appear to overlook the mental health element. To offer health populations going through diagnosis and treatment a better patient experience, practitioners should be mindful of how endometriosis affects people mentally, as well as physically.

Our software brings quantitative rigor to qualitative data sources – in this case by analyzing online conversations. If you have healthcare text data which you want to act upon but don’t know where to start, speak to one of our team to learn how Relative Insight Medical can help.

Identify how different health practitioners talk