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Patient Educ Couns. 2001 Apr;43(1):97-104.

The strategies used by general practitioners when providing information about medicines.

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Department of General Practice and Primary Care, Guy's, King's, and St Thomas' School of Medicine, King's College, 5 Lambeth Walk, SE11 6SP, London, UK.


Changes both inside and outside the consultation increase the chances that patients may gain information from sources other than their general practitioner (GP). Data from nine interviews and one focus group with British GPs were used to explore GPs' rationale for the information they provide when prescribing oral steroids and their perceptions of patients' expectations. GPs' communication strategies were associated with the type of relationship they sought to perpetuate with patients. Some GPs reported that decisions about the provision of information were based on their own judgements of what patients needed to know (paternalistic approach), while others reported attempts to take account of patients' existing knowledge and beliefs (mutualistic approach). All the GPs were aware of the availability of information about medical matters, and most believed that patients' expectations had increased. The communication strategies of some GPs may not be appropriate given the availability of medical information outside the consultation.

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