, Volume 10, Issue 11, pp 607-614

Improving patient quality of life with feedback to physicians about functional status

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OBJECTIVE: To improve functional status among primary care patients.

INTERVENTION: 1) Computer-generated feedback to physicians about the patient’s functional status, the patient’s self-reported “chief complaint,” and problem-specific resource and management suggestions; and 2) two brief interactive educational sessions for physicians.

DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial.

SETTING: University primary care clinic.

PARTICIPANTS: All 73 internal medicine houseofficers and 557 of their new primary care patients.

MEASURES: 1) Change in patient functional status from enrollment until six months later, using the Functional Status Questionnaire (FSQ); 2) management plans and additional information about functional status abstracted from the medical record; and 3) physician attitude about whether internists should address functional status problems.

RESULTS: Emotional well-being scores improved significantly for the patients of the experimental group physicians compared with those of the control group physicians (p<0.03). Limitations in social activities indicated as “due to health” decreased among the elderly (>70 years of age) individuals in the experimental group compared with the control group (p<0.03). The experimental group physicians diagnosed more symptoms of stress or anxiety than did the control group physicians (p<0.001) and took more actions recommended by the feedback form (p<0.02).

CONCLUSIONS: Computer-generated feedback of functional status screening results accompanied by resource and management suggestions can increase physician diagnoses of impaired emotional well-being, can influence physician management of functional status problems, and can assist physicians in improving emotional well-being and social functioning among their patients.

Supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The opinions and conclusions herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Sepulveda VA, UCLA, CSUF, Rand, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.