Patient Expectations from Consultation with Family Physician

Tähepőld, Heli; Van den Brink-Muinen, Atie; Maaroos, Heidi-Ingrid
February 2006
Croatian Medical Journal;2006, Vol. 47 Issue 1, p148
Academic Journal
Aim To assess patient expectations from a consultation with a family physician and determine the level and area of patient involvement in the communication process. Method We videotaped 403 consecutive patient-physician consultations in the offices of 27 Estonian family physicians. All videotaped patients completed a questionnaire about their expectations before and after the consultation. Patient assessment of expected and obtained psychosocial support and biomedical information during the consultation with physician were compared. Two investigators independently assessed patient involvement in the consultation process on the basis of videotaped consultations, using a 5-point scale. Results Receiving an explanation of biomedical information and discussing psychosocial aspects was assessed as important by 57.4-66.8% and 17.8-36.1% patients, respectively. The physicians did not meet patient expectations in the case of three biomedical aspects of consultation: cause of symptoms, severity of symptoms, and test results. Younger patients evaluated the importance of discussing psychological problems higher than older patients. The involvement of the patients was high in the problem defining process, in the physicians' overall responsiveness to the patients, and in their picking up of the patient's cues. The patients were involved less in the decision making process. Conclusion Discussing biomedical issues was more important for the patients than discussing psychological issues. The patients wanted to hear more about the cause and seriousness of their symptoms and about test results. The family physicians provided more psychosocial care than the patients had expected. Considering high patient involvement in the consultation process and the overall responsiveness of the family physicians to the patients during the consultation, Estonian physicians provide patient-centered consultations.


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