When asked to what degree an illness had a root biological cause, doctors thought patients would place more blame on uncontrollable factors such as germs or genetics than they actually did.
"When it comes to something like diabetes, the doctor may be thinking the patient doesn't seem to understand that part of the problem is what they are eating, but the patient is thinking, 'I know part of the problem is what I'm eating,'" Street said. "Or the doctor may think, 'This patient just really wants me to take care of this problem for them and make all the decisions,' while the patient is thinking, 'I really want to be very much involved in making decisions for myself.'"
Instead, doctors' beliefs about what their patients were thinking tended to mirror their own opinions or thoughts about the best way of dealing with an illness, Street said.
"We generally tend to believe other people look at the world the same way we do, when in fact they often don't," Street said. "Doctors and patients ought to be on the same page. What our findings indicate is they are often not on the same page, but doctors often think they are."
The disconnect was even more pronounced with minority patients, according to the study.
In listening to recordings of what transpired during the medical exam, an analysis found that doctors had a better understanding of patients who asked questions and stated their preferences.
The study found no association between the number of times a patient had seen a doctor and how well they understood each other.
Dr. David Ansell, chief medical officer at Rush University Medical Center, said the lack of understanding between doctors and their minorities patients especially needs to be addressed.
"We have a disconnect between wh
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