Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Coaching patients and physicians to make the most of visits

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A review of 33 studies by The Cochrane Collaboration found that giving patients checklists and providing coaching in the doctor's office can help them ask more questions of their physician and receive more useful information in return.

These coaching interventions were most effective if they took place immediately before a consultation. Such coaching increased patient satisfaction and decreased patient anxiety.

The review also examined the value of refresher courses in communication skills for doctors. According to the review, doctors often underestimate their patients' needs for information. Also, physicians are sometimes reluctant to give information they feel could be disturbing or harmful when treating patients with serious or life-threatening illnesses.

In addition, studies have shown that patients talk for only 30 seconds before doctors cut in and take over.

What has your experience been regarding doctors and their communication skills? What advice would you give patients to make the most of their visits?

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