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Physician Communication with Patients

Research Findings and Challenges

Jon Christianson

Publication Year: 2012

We all have a good idea of how we want things to go when we visit a physician. We expect to be able to explain why we are there, and we hope the physician will listen and possibly ask questions that help us clarify our thoughts. Most of us hope that the physician will provide some expression of empathy, offer a clear, nontechnical assessment of our problem, and describe "next steps" in a way that is easy to understand. Ideally, we would like to be asked about our ability to follow treatment recommendations. Some experts say that these expectations are not only reasonable but even necessary if patients are to get the care they need. Yet there is a growing body of research that suggests the reality of physician communication with patients often falls short of this ideal in many respects. A careful analysis of the findings of this research can provide guidance to physician educators, health care administrators, and health policy makers interested in understanding the role that improved physician communication can play in improving quality of care and patient outcomes. Physician Communication with Patients summarizes findings from the academic literature pertaining to various aspects of this question, discussing those findings in the context of current pressures for change in the organization and delivery of medical services.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Title Page, Copyright

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List of Figures and Tables

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-xi

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-16

We all have a good idea of how we want things to go when we visit a physician. We expect—count on—being able to talk to the physician about why we are there. This means telling him or her what feels wrong, explaining why we think prior treatment recommendations are not working, and even suggesting what we think...

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2. What Is the Evidence That Physician Communication Is Deficient?

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pp. 17-67

Anecdotal evidence, supported by the results of consumer surveys (Blendon, Buhr, et al. 2003), suggests that poor physician communication is pervasive in America and in other countries as well. The need for research to document its existence likely would seem questionable or even mildly amusing to most...

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3. How Does Physician Communication Affect Patients?

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pp. 68-100

The research findings described in chapter 2 identified elements of physician communication that appear problematic and, therefore, where there appears to be room for improvement. But by themselves, these findings are not sufficient to support the expenditure of resources on specific improvement efforts. In...

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4. What Factors Are Associated with Deficiencies in Physician Communication?

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pp. 101-170

In chapter 3, we summarized evidence on the relationships between physician communication and patient outcomes.While this literature has some shortcomings, it provides overall support for hypotheses that poor physician communication has important implications for patients. In this chapter, we address the...

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5. How Effective Are Strategies to Improve Physician Communication?

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pp. 171-221

In chapter 4, we discussed the factors that seem to be associated with the quality of physician communication. Some physician characteristics, such as age and gender, clearly are not subject to change through educational programs or skill-building efforts. Other physician characteristics associated with physician...

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6. Improving Physician Communication: Insights from Skills Training Programs

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pp. 222-238

In earlier chapters, we reviewed published studies relating to physician communication.We found considerable evidence of deficiencies in physician communication (chapter 2) and also evidence that poor communication is associated with lower levels of patient satisfaction, poorer adherence to treatment...

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7. Looking to the Future: Opportunities and Challenges

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pp. 239-246

Issues relating to physician communication have received growing attention over the last 30 years, and their visibility and importance likely will continue to increase over the next decade. Supporting this expectation are a variety of changes, anticipated or already under way, relating to the financing and delivery...

Appendix: How Do Physician Communication Initiatives Compare to Other Efforts to Improve Patient Outcomes through Changing Physician Behaviors?

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pp. 247-273


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pp. 275-290


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pp. 291-292

E-ISBN-13: 9780472028368
E-ISBN-10: 0472028367
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472118281
Print-ISBN-10: 0472118285

Page Count: 340
Illustrations: 2 figures, 19 tables
Publication Year: 2012