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Do physicians take into account patients’ expectations?

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To determine whether patient expectations are fulfilled when they are expressed to physicians, self-administrated questionnaires were given to 360 consecutive ambulatory patients. Information was randomly given or not given to physicians. Diagnosis (94%), information about prognosis (82%) and prevention (76%), and continuing care (80%) were important expectations. There was no agreement between global or individual patient expectation and physician response (kappa ≤ 0.3). The physicians prescribed more medications than expected, and almost never discussed prevention or prognosis. Finally, the characteristics of care were not different between the physicians who knew and those who did not know patient expectations. The authors conclude that ambulatory patients visit physicians to receive a diagnosis, continuing care, and information about prognosis and prevention. In this study, physician knowledge of those expectations did not increase their fulfillment.

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Received from the Department of Medicine, Hôpital Cantonal Universitaire, Geneva, Switzerland.

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Sanchez-Menegay, C., Stalder, H. Do physicians take into account patients’ expectations?. J Gen Intern Med 9, 404–406 (1994).

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