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Health Serv Manage Res. 2006 Nov;19(4):215-22.

Patient reciprocity and physician burnout: what do patients bring to the patient-physician relationship?

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Department of Health Management and Informatics, School of Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA.


Despite its criticality to the provision of health care, little is known about how the patient-physician relationship influences burnout. This article seeks to understand how patient performance (e.g. being informative about needs) during office visits is associated with perceived reciprocity in the patient-physician relationship, which is in turn associated with physician burnout. To that end, we report the results of a cross-sectional survey of 252 matched pairs of patients and their primary care physicians about a recent office visit. The findings support a social exchange model of burnout that suggests that patient stressors and patient performance predict perceived reciprocity and subsequent burnout. Interestingly, patients' perceptions of their performance differed from physicians' perceptions; physicians' perceptions of performance fit the social exchange model better than patients' perceptions of performance.The present work suggests that while they are a source of demands, patients also provide resources that are critical to the patient-physician relationship. To the extent that we can encourage these resources, we can improve perceived reciprocity and reduce burnout in physicians.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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