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Continuity of care helps patients raise health problems

Patients who are able to see the same GP over time and develop a deep relationship with them are more likely to raise problems during a consultation than patients who tend to see different GPs, a study has suggested.

Researchers at the University of Bristol studied video recordings of consultations of 190 patients with 30 GPs from 22 practices in the Bristol area, measuring factors associated with the depth of the GP-patient relationship using the ‘Patient-Doctor Depth of Relationship’ questionnaire.

Almost one third - 58 patients - had developed a deep relationship with their GP, according to the questionnaire. These patients raised on average 0.5 more problems per consultation, and 0.9 more issues relating to each problem, compared with people who had not built up such a strong relationship through seeing the same GP.

Co-author Dr Matthew Ridd, from Bristol University School of Social and Community Medicine, said the study was ‘the first to show how seeing the same doctor can positively affect consultations’.

Dr Ridd said: ‘There was evidence that patients raised more problems and issues with GPs that they felt they had a deep relationship with.’

‘This could be because patients feel more comfortable raising additional issues with a GP they feel they know well, or because more issues can be addressed within the time available as the GP knows the patient and their medical history.’


Readers' comments (6)

  • Vinci Ho

    This is telling me that my mother is a woman and my father(late) was a man.
    But what does the government and Agent Hunt et al.(and those ingratiating with them) want to do? 24/7 general practice and wiping out all small practices and sacrificing continuity......

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  • Irony. Irony. Irony. Another ground breaking headline. I'm off to reflect on it.

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  • Jaw dropping stuff. Good to know that when the sponge of General Practice is finally wrung out by NHSE, I can have a career in academia stating the blinding obvious.

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  • Peter Swinyard

    Not, I think, the first study to show that continuity of care improves consultations.
    From a Family Doctor Association perspective, "I told you so".
    From a GP perspective, we are perhaps to commission a study to show that surgeries see more patients in the hours of opening than when they are closed. Should get a research grant for that one...

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  • Surely everyone knows this already?

    My worry is that now this blinding statement has been made public, NHSE will insist on everyone having a named GP.

    when these statements come out, they are usually followed up by an order that 'this is what the patient wants and this is what the patient will get'!

    What NHSE needs to ask consider is this is how GP surgeries were once managed until interfering external departments got involved.

    GP's are now flogged to death I am surprised that can keep their yes open and concentrate on what patients tell them! I am now more worried about the health of my GP, than I need him to be worried about me!

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  • This is clearly true, but the impact of this on the doctor is not appreciated. Seeing an elderly patient, who you know well and who feels comfortable with you, leads to a much higher demand on your time and attention.
    In my experience these patients bring not one, but maybe three "extra,while I'm here" issues in a consultation. They are awarded the same ten minutes and are exhausting. They also happen to be patients you care about and feel responsible for, adding to the demands on you.
    There has to be a genuine attempt to assess the demands these patients make and to protect the doctors looking after them from burnout.
    It seems that the only factor considered is the effect on the patient, which is undoubtedly good.

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