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Patient Educ Couns. 2007 Apr;66(1):29-36. Epub 2006 Dec 22.

The physician-patient working alliance.

Author information

  • 1Graduate School of Education, Division of Psychological & Educational Services, Fordham University, New York, NY 10023-7478, USA. fuertes@fordham.edu



Cognitive and emotional dimensions of the physician-patient relationship (working alliance) were examined in relation to patients' beliefs about the usefulness of treatment (perceived utility), patients' beliefs about being able to adhere to treatment (adherence self-efficacy beliefs), patients' follow through on their treatment plan (adherence), and patients' satisfaction.


Participants were 51 men and 67 women who averaged 38.9 years of age (S.D.=12.28). Seventy-two were Euro-American, 23 African-American, 6 Asian-American, 11 Hispanic, and 6 "Other." They reported an average of 7.3 years (S.D.=7.48) since being diagnosed with a chronic medical illness and an average of 7.1 (S.D.=4.88) visits to their doctor within the last year. Patients' conditions included HIV+/AIDS, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and cancer.


Results show moderate to strong relationships between working alliance and perceived utility (r=0.63, P<0.001), self-efficacy (r=0.47, P<0.001), adherence (r=0.53, P<0.001), and satisfaction (r=0.83, P<0.001). Regression analyses showed that ratings of the working alliance (SB=0.25, P<0.005) and self-efficacy beliefs (SB=0.48, P<0.001) predicted patient adherence and that working alliance ratings (SB=0.83, P<0.001) also predicted patient satisfaction.


The working alliance can be measured in medical care and appears to be strongly associated with patients' adherence to and satisfaction with treatment.


The working alliance is important in medical treatment, as it is associated with patient adherence and satisfaction. Patients' self-efficacy ought to be assessed and promoted as it is also associated with treatment adherence.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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