Which is more important for outcome: the physician's or the patient's understanding of a health problem? A 2-year follow-up study in primary care.
ABSTRACT We sought to examine (1) whether the patients' and the family physicians' (FPs') beliefs about the nature of a health problem predict health outcomes and (2) whether the FPs were aware of their patients' beliefs.
A 2-year follow-up study of 38 FPs and 1131 patients presenting with well-defined physical disease (n=922) or medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) (n=209) according to the FPs was conducted. Before the consultation, patients categorized their health problem as being either physical or both physical and psychological. After the consultation, the FPs judged their patients' understanding of the health problem. Outcome measures were (1) patient satisfaction (seven-item Patient Satisfaction Consultation Questionnaire), (2) self-perceived mental and physical health (component summaries of the Medical Outcome Study's Short Form: SF-36) and (3) health care use extracted from patient registers.
Patients with MUS according to the FPs and patients who believed that the nature of their health problem was both physical and psychological had higher health care use and worse self-rated health than patients in cases where both the FP and the patient had a physical understanding. Patients presenting MUS were more dissatisfied with the consultation than patients with well-defined physical disease. Overall, the FPs' perceptions of their patients' understanding were accurate in 82% of the consultations, but when the patients had a both physical and psychological understanding of their health problem, the FPs were right in only 26% of the consultations.
Both FPs' diagnoses and patients' beliefs predict important health outcomes such as patient satisfaction, use of health care and self-rated health.
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ABSTRACT: We assessed risk factors affecting the provisional diagnosis of medically unexplained symptoms made by physicians in new patients, in 526 clinical encounters. Comparisons were made between the doctor's initial assessments regarding the nature of symptoms, and the final diagnosis. Physicians were more likely to err on the side of diagnosing the symptoms as medically explained rather than unexplained. When physicians perceived the interaction with the patient to be positive, they were more likely to make a provisional diagnosis that the symptoms were explained. Conversely, a negative perception of the interaction was associated with an increased likelihood of viewing symptoms as medically unexplained. Physicians should be aware of the effect of their own perceptions on their diagnostic behaviour.QJM: monthly journal of the Association of Physicians 02/2000; 93(1):21-8. · 2.36 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: To investigate patients' agendas before consultation and to assess which aspects of agendas are voiced in the consultation and the effects of unvoiced agendas on outcomes. Qualitative study. 20 general practices in south east England and the West Midlands. 35 patients consulting 20 general practitioners in appointment and emergency surgeries. Patients' agendas are complex and multifarious. Only four of 35 patients voiced all their agendas in consultation. Agenda items most commonly voiced were symptoms and requests for diagnoses and prescriptions. The most common unvoiced agenda items were: worries about possible diagnosis and what the future holds; patients' ideas about what is wrong; side effects; not wanting a prescription; and information relating to social context. Agenda items that were not raised in the consultation often led to specific problem outcomes (for example, major misunderstandings), unwanted prescriptions, non-use of prescriptions, and non-adherence to treatment. In all of the 14 consultations with problem outcomes at least one of the problems was related to an unvoiced agenda item. Patients have many needs and when these are not voiced they can not be addressed. Some of the poor outcomes in the case studies were related to unvoiced agenda items. This suggests that when patients and their needs are more fully articulated in the consultation better health care may be effected. Steps should be taken in both daily clinical practice and research to encourage the voicing of patients' agendas.BMJ 06/2000; 320(7244):1246-50. · 14.09 Impact Factor
- Psychosomatics 01/2002; 43(2):93-131. · 1.73 Impact Factor