Perspective1 March 1992

Enriching the Doctor-Patient Relationship by Inviting the Patient's Perspective

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    ▪ Doctors and patients alike are saddened and angered by the distance that increasingly interferes with their interactions. Two complementary strategies may enhance the human quality of clinical care and improve outcomes. First, the doctor and patient can undertake a systematic "patient's review" that addresses seven dimensions of care: 1) respect for patient's values, preferences, and expressed needs; 2) communication and education; 3) coordination and integration of care; 4) physical comfort; 5) emotional support and alleviation of fears and anxieties; 6) involvement of family and friends; and 7) continuity and transition. Incorporating the "review" into the clinical encounter encourages both patient and doctor to confront individual preferences and values and offers patients an explicit framework for participating actively in their care. Second, using survey instruments designed to solicit focused reports from patients that address each dimension of care, doctors can gather aggregate feedback about their practices. Such reports move beyond anecdote and can serve as screening tests that uncover areas in doctors' practices that merit improvement. In addition, patients can join doctors in developing solutions to problems uncovered by patients' reports.


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