The Effect of Patients’ Met Expectations on Consultation Outcomes. A Study with Family Medicine Residents
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To know the patients’ expectations and the fulfillment of these at family medicine consultations by resident doctors and to assess their effect on some consultation outcomes.
A prospective cohort study.
Patients attending family medicine consultations held by 38 resident doctors: 1,301 eligible patients, 702 filled in all questionnaires.
Before each visit, the patients’ expectations about that particular consultation were registered. Right after the visit was over, their perception of several aspects of the communicative interaction with the doctor was measured. Later, patients were interviewed on the phone to know how their expectations had been fulfilled, how satisfied they were about the consultation, how they had followed the doctor’s suggestions, if they were going to seek further care for the same cause later, and the evolution of their clinical problem. Logistic regression was the main analysis used.
The most common expectations were the doctor showing interest and listening (30.5%), getting some information about the diagnosis (16.3%), and sharing problems and doubts (11.1%). The rate of main expectations that were met was 76.5%. Satisfaction with the encounter was associated with the clinical evolution [odds ratio (OR) 2.23; confidence interval (CI): 1.32–3.75], and the fulfilling of the patients’ main or two main expectations was significantly related to all the measured outcomes (satisfaction OR 3.51, CI: 1.73–7.8; adherence OR 1.80, CI: 1.11–2.92; clinical evolution OR 1.54, CI: 1.01–2.35; and seeking further care later OR 0.54, CI:0.36–0.81)
Patients prioritize expectations of a more general sort when they attend primary care consultations and residents fulfill these acceptably. The fulfillment of expectations seems to affect the studied outcomes more than other factors.
Key wordspatient expectations primary care family medicine residents prospective study consultation outcomes
We thank Ronald Epstein (University of Rochester) for his helpful suggestions about the manuscript and Purificación Jiménez for her assistance with the English version. A part of this study (“Patient expectations with general practice visit and their relationship with visit outcomes”) was presented at the European Association of Communication & Health conference in Brugge (Belgium) in September, 2004.
Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest
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