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Longterm patient-GP relationships good for quality of care, U.K. study finds

patientcare2With a change of job or marital status, or by provisions of the Affordable Care Act, you switch health-insurance carriers. You move. Your doctor goes out of network, is booked right now, goes on vacation, or retires altogether. You find a new primary care provider. Again.

So how much patient history, and patient-doctor relationship history, gets lost in transition? Scientists from the University of Bristol in the U.K. aimed to answer that question and found that patients are more likely to bring up a health concern with a doctor they've built a relationship with over time than with a new doctor.

The researchers' findings were presented last week at the South West Society for Academic Primary Care (SW SAPC) meeting. From a release:

...researchers collected data from 22 practices in the Bristol area, recording consultations between 190 patients and 30 GPs.

Researchers then looked at whether consultation length and the number of problems and issues raised were affected by patient-doctor continuity.

Analysis showed that almost a third of patients had a ‘deep’ relationship with their GP, which in turn encouraged them to raise 0.5 more problems (a topic requiring a GP to make a decision or diagnosis) and 0.9 more issues (the number of topics raised within each problem, such as symptoms) during each consultation.

This may mean many more problems and issues are addressed over the course of several visits.

Study author Matthew Ridd, PhD, said, “This research study is the first of its kind to show how seeing the same doctor can positively affect consultations.”

Previously: Managing primary care patients’ risky drinkingFuture doctors have a lot at stake, even if they don’t know it: A student’s take on the Affordable Care ActMatching into family medicine and My parents don’t think I’m smart enough for family medicine: One medical student’s story
Photo by Stanford EdTech

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