Project Summary

This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.

What is the research about?

People with a communication disability, or a CD, have trouble with their speech, language, voice, or hearing. Two examples of CDs are hearing loss and stuttering. People with CDs often report having a hard time communicating with their healthcare team. They also report receiving low-quality care.

In this study, the research team is comparing two ways to improve communication between healthcare teams and people with CDs.

Who can this research help?

Results may help primary care clinics when considering ways to improve quality of care for people with CDs.

What is the research team doing?

The research team is conducting the study at eight primary care clinics in four US cities. The team is recruiting 1,728 patients with a CD who receive care at the clinics to take part in the study.

During the month before the study starts, all study clinics receive the first program. This program trains healthcare teams on effective ways to communicate with people with CDs. The training teaches skills such as writing down key words and maintaining eye contact.

The research team is then assigning a date by chance for each clinic to start a second program. In this program, patients complete a web-based form before their healthcare visit. The form asks patients to choose the ways they want their healthcare team to communicate with them. Patients show the form to their healthcare provider during their visit.

Patient visits may occur after a clinic has received the first program or after the clinic has started offering the second program. Right after their visit, patients are completing surveys about their experiences with care and the quality of communication with their healthcare team. One week and six months after their visit, patients are completing additional surveys asking about their quality of life and confidence in managing their health problems. Also, right after each patient visit, providers are completing a survey about their satisfaction with the visit. The research team is videotaping some visits to see if healthcare teams are using effective ways of communicating.

People with CDs, caregivers, disability advocates, and policy makers are helping to design the study. They are also making sure that study outcomes matter to people with CDs.

Research methods at a glance

Design Element Description
Design Stepped-wedge randomized controlled trial
Population 1,728 patients with CDs seeking care at 8 primary care clinics in 4 US cities
  • Training healthcare teams on strategies for communicating with people with CDs plus a patient preference survey
  • Training healthcare teams only

Primary: patients’ experiences with clinical visit, patients’ health-related quality of life


  • Patients: self-efficacy for managing chronic health problems
  • Providers: use of patient-centered communication strategies; satisfaction with patient visit
Timeframe Up to 6-month follow-up for primary outcomes

Project Information

Megan A. Morris, PhD, MPH, CCC-SLP
University of Colorado Denver
Improving Communication and Healthcare Outcomes for Patients with Communication Disabilities: The INTERACT Trial

Key Dates

November 2019
July 2024


Award Type
Health Conditions Health Conditions These are the broad terms we use to categorize our funded research studies; specific diseases or conditions are included within the appropriate larger category. Note: not all of our funded projects focus on a single disease or condition; some touch on multiple diseases or conditions, research methods, or broader health system interventions. Such projects won’t be listed by a primary disease/condition and so won’t appear if you use this filter tool to find them. View Glossary
Populations Populations PCORI is interested in research that seeks to better understand how different clinical and health system options work for different people. These populations are frequently studied in our portfolio or identified as being of interest by our stakeholders. View Glossary
Intervention Strategy Intervention Strategies PCORI funds comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies that compare two or more options or approaches to health care, or that compare different ways of delivering or receiving care. View Glossary
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: September 26, 2023