This site is intended for health professionals only

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.’