Physicians Rate Communication During Visit Lower Than Patients

Lack of correlation between physician scores of doctor-patient communication versus patient scores.
Lack of correlation between physician scores of doctor-patient communication versus patient scores.

HealthDay News — There is a lack of correlation between physician scores and those of others for physician-patient communication, according to a study published in the July/August issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Jenni Burt, PhD, from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and colleagues analyzed survey data from patients attending face-to-face appointments with 45 family physicians at 13 practices. Patients and physicians independently completed a questionnaire including 7 items assessing communication quality immediately post-appointment. Using the same 7 communication items, a sample of videotaped appointments was assessed by trained clinical raters. Data were included for 503 physician-patient pairs; 55 appointments were assessed by trained clinician raters. 

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The researchers found that physicians scored themselves lower than patients on average (mean physician score, 74.5; mean patient score, 94.4); 63.4% of patient-reported scores were 100. From 55 appointments, the mean of rater scores was 57.3. A near-zero correlation coefficient was seen between physician- and patient-reported communication scores (0.009; P=.854) and between physician- and trained rater-reported communication scores (−0.006; P=.69). A moderate and statistically significant correlation was seen between patient and trained-rater scores (0.35; P=.042).

"Physicians may not be aware of how patients experience their communication practices; peer assessment of communication skills is an important approach in identifying areas for improvement," the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to Ipsos MORI; several authors were involved in developing the English GP Patient Survey.

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