The full impact of an acute illness on subsequent health is seldom explicitly discussed with patients. Patients’ estimates of their likely prognosis have been explored in chronic care settings and can contribute to the improvement of clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction. This scoping review aimed to identify studies of acutely ill patients’ estimates of their outcomes and potential benefits for their care.
A search was conducted in PubMed, Embase, Web of Science and Google Scholar, using terms related to prognostication and acute care. After removal of duplicates, all articles were assessed for relevance by six investigator pairs; disagreements were resolved by a third investigator. Risk of bias was assessed according to the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions.
Our search identified 3265 articles, of which 10 were included. The methods of assessing self-prognostication were very heterogeneous. Patients seem to be able to predict their need for hospital admission in certain settings, but not their length of stay. The severity of their symptoms and the burden of their disease are often overestimated or underestimated by patients. Patients with severe health conditions and their relatives tend to be overoptimistic about the likely outcome.
The understanding of acutely ill patients of their likely outcomes and benefits of treatment has not been adequately studied and is a major knowledge gap. Limited published literature suggests patients may be able to predict their need for hospital admission. Illness perception may influence help-seeking behaviour, speed of recovery and subsequent quality of life. Knowledge of patients’ self-prognosis may enhance communication between patients and their physicians, which improves patient-centred care.
Mols EM, Haak H, Holland M, et al Can acutely ill patients predict their outcomes? A scoping review
Emergency Medicine Journal Published Online First: 18 January 2024.