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Doctors, Patients Rarely on Same Page
Date:7/29/2010

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 29 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors and patients are often out of sync with each other when it comes to what patients believe about their illnesses, including to what extent the patient is to blame and what's the best way to manage the problem, new research shows.

The underlying cause of the disconnect is a lack of communication, researchers said. Patients who were "active participants" in their care -- by asking questions, voicing opinions and sharing concerns -- were better understood by their doctors, according to the study.

"When patients speak up, stating their preferences, their beliefs and their concerns or worries, doctors get firsthand information about what patients think," said study author Richard Street Jr., a professor of communication at Texas A& M University and director of the health decision-making and communication program at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. "It's not surprising that doctors would get a better understanding of their patients."

The study is published in the July 26 online issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Street and Dr. Paul Haidet of Penn State University asked 29 primary care physicians and more than 200 patients to fill out a questionnaire that measured their beliefs about the illness or condition they were being seen for, including the underlying cause for the illness, the extent to which the disease was controllable, how much their behavior was to blame for the illness and the impact of the illness on their life.

"We found significant differences in what the patients believed about their health and what the doctors thought the patient believed," Street said.

Patients were more likely to blame themselves for the illness than doctors thought they would. Doctors also underestimated the patients' beliefs about how well they could control the condition; how much the illness impac
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