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Chiropractic Research Review

What Patients Want

In a patient-centered approach, the doctor works to understand the patient as a whole, finds common ground with the patient in managing his or her problem, includes health promotion, and works to enhance the doctor-patient relationship.

One problem with this approach is that it takes time,, and what the patient may want or need from the doctor changes due to a variety of factors.

In this study, the authors investigated 865 patients' preferences for a patient-centered approach to care in the general practice setting. Patients were asked to complete a questionnaire before and after a consultation with a primary care practitioner; questions were asked about patient-centered approaches to care and examination and prescription.

Patient preferences fell primarily into three domains: 88-99% of the respondents wanted communication with their doctor, 77-87% a partnership, and 85-89% health promotion. About 63% of the patients wanted an examination, and even fewer wanted a prescription. Patients with a strong desire for communication were also more likely to feel unwell, frequently attend the clinic, and have no paid work.

The authors recommend that doctors be sensitive to patients who have a strong preference for a patient-centered approach to care, regardless of their reason.

Note: This study suggests that patients want good relationships with their doctors, something for which chiropractors have received praise for many years. The full text of this interesting article is available for free on line at www.bmj.com.

Little P, Everitt H, Williamson I, et al. Preferences for patient centered approach to consultation in primary care: observational study. British Medical Journal 2001:322, pp 1-7.

Chiropractic Research Review

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