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Br J Gen Pract. Dec 2002; 52(485): 1012–1020.
PMCID: PMC1314474

The relationship between consultation length, process and outcomes in general practice: a systematic review.


The aim of the study was to examine differences in consultation process and health outcomes between primary care physicians who consult at different rates. A systematic review of observational studies was carried out, restricted to English language journal papers reporting original research or systematic reviews. Qualitative analysis with narrative overview of methodology and key results was undertaken, using MEDLINE (1966 to 1999), EMBASE (1981 to 1999), and the NHS National Research Register. Secondary references from this search were also considered for inclusion. Main outcome measures were objectively measured process or healthcare outcomes. Thirteen papers, describing ten studies, were identified. There were consistent differences in several elements of process and outcome between general practitioners (GPs) who consult at different rates. Although average consultation length may be a marker of other doctor attributes, the evidence suggests that patients seeking help from a doctor who spends more time with them are more likely to have a consultation that includes important elements of care.

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Selected References

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