PatientsView report. What do patients think of doctors?
PATIENTS THINK THAT DOCTORS STAND IN THE WAY OF THEIR RECEIVING THE BEST TREATMENT AND CARE SAYS A GLOBAL SURVEY OF 2,500 PATIENT GROUPS (INCLUDING ALMOST 2,000 GROUPS FROM WESTERN AND EASTERN EUROPE)
A 400-page report, What do patients think of doctors?, published in early-March 2011 by UK research organisation PatientView, finds that over half (53%) of the 2,500 respondent patient groups think patients believe doctors are standing in the way of their receipt of the correct diagnosis, treatment and and/or support—and are making patients ‘fight the system’ to obtain the care they need. For the members of ENFA this report is available by sending a mail to email@example.com from a known e-mail address.
The situation is at its worst in five countries—Canada, Germany, Italy, New Zealand and the UK—where 60% or more of patient groups say that health professionals need to improve their relationships with patients by not making patients fight the system for their medical needs. 70% of patient groups representing the interests of patients with gastrointestinal problems, 60% representing the interests of patients with multiple sclerosis, and 60% rare diseases, feel that health professionals need to stop forcing patients to ‘fight the system’ to get the care they need.
Poor doctor-patient relationships have a negative effect on patient health
What do patients think of doctors?focuses on the current state of doctor-patient relationships, and offers numerous insights into how they can be improved. The report finds that less than a third of groups representing patients believe GPs and consultants remain traditional and patriarchal in their attitudes to patients. On the other hand, only 15% believe that doctors treat patients as equals (and act on that belief)—the rest believe that the situation varies from doctor to doctor, or that doctors may intend to take a partnering role, but fail to live up to it. Relationships between doctors and patients are undoubtedly in need of considerable improvement, especially in some of the less well-performing countries [see charts in sample pages at weblink above]. The state of doctor-patient relations has an important bearing on how well patients respond to treatment. In the report, patient groups are quoted as saying that poor doctor-patient relationships prevent patients from coming forward for medical treatment and care—even when treatment and care is needed.
Doctors need to listen more to the patient
When asked what single intervention would most improve doctor-patient relationships, the groups cite “enhancing the communication-and-understanding skills of the healthcare professional” as their main choice, second only to “the provision of treatment and care that improves quality of life”. In Australia, Italy, New Zealand and the UK, improving doctors’ communication-and-understanding skills is ranked first, as the most important way of improving doctor-patient relations. Groups representing the interests of patients with cancer and HIV/AIDS also see such a development as the favoured way of improving doctor-patient relations among the patients in their disease specialties.