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Cancer Prev Control. 1999 Feb;3(1):25-30.

Evidence on patient-doctor communication.

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Department of Family Medicine, University of Western Ontario, London, Ont.


This chapter covers important and well-studied aspects of patient-doctor communication. First the paper describes the lessons learned from studies about patients' satisfactions or dissatisfactions related to patient-doctor communication, making the point that complaints about doctors are usually due to communication problems and not technical competency issues. The next section of the chapter deals with time. It is often assumed that effective communication is inefficient. While this is not necessarily the case, the research results are complex and very interesting. The third part of the chapter covers communication in relation to patient adherence with the management plan recommended by the doctor. There is strong evidence that communication affects patient adherence and that there are four key aspects of communication that can enhance the patients' co-operation with the management plan. The final topic is patients' health. Twenty-two studies indicate the generally positive effect of key dimensions of communication on actual patient health outcomes such as pain, recovery from symptom, anxiety, functional status, and physiologic measures of blood pressure and blood glucose.

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