News flash! Patients like physicians

July 1, 1998

Pharmaceutical Representative

A majority of American patients are pleased with their physicians, according to a new survey released by the Pfizer Medical Humanities Initiative.

A majority of American patients are pleased with their physicians, according to a new survey released by the Pfizer Medical Humanities Initiative.

Approximately 60% of patients contacted in a telephone survey said they were extremely or very satisfied with their physicians' communication skills, accessibility and follow-up after office visits.

Less than 13% of patients said they were dissatisfied with their physicians in these same areas.

Contrary to physicians' expectations, more than half of patients said they were extremely or very satisfied with the duration of office visits. Less than 40% of surveyed physicians said they felt their patients were satisfied with the length of visits.

The survey, conducted by the independent research firm Yankelovich Partners, included more than 1,500 patients and 400 physicians.

The survey also revealed that most patients had been seeing the same physician for an average of seven years. This finding matched up with reports from 86% of physicians, who claimed long-term relationships with the majority of patients.

Interestingly, patients and physicians alike reported they wanted patients to be more educated and more involved with making decisions about their health care and treatment. More than 95% of both groups said they desired a mutually active partnership in regard to decision-making.

"The results show a welcome concordance between physicians' and patients' perceptions of their relationship," said Daniel Federman, M.D., the dean for medical education at Harvard Medical School. "While the patient-physician relationship has certainly evolved in the last decade and will continue to evolve in the years ahead, the findings clearly point to standards for which all health care providers should strive."

Creating better equilibrium in the decision-making process will require a conscious change in attitude and behavior for both physicians and patients, however, according to survey results. Currently only 44% of patients feel they share a mutual partnership with their doctor, while 77% of physicians feel the relationship is mutual.

Other interesting survey findings include the fact that nearly one of every five surveyed patients use the Internet as a source for medical information; that 89% said they receive their medical information from their doctors; and that other sources of patient education information include books, family and friends and consumer media.

The New York-based Pfizer Medical Humanities Initiative is a research and educational program committed to understanding and enhancing the patient-physician relationship. PR

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