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Patient-physician compatibility increases odds of following doctor's orders
Date:4/21/2010

Doctors and patients have varying opinions on how much control a person has over their own health outcomes. A new study by University of Iowa researchers suggests that when doctor and patient attitudes on the issue match up, patients do a better job of taking their medications.

Published online and in the May issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the study is part of a growing body of evidence indicating that patient-physician compatibility affects adherence to doctor's orders and even a patient's health status.

The study was led by Alan Christensen, Ph.D., professor of psychology in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and of internal medicine in the UI Carver College of Medicine. It involved 18 primary-care physicians and 246 male patients from the Iowa City VA Medical Center, where Christensen is a senior scientist. The patients had both diabetes and high blood pressure, conditions that require a high level of self-management and frequent checkups.

Researchers used surveys to assess the extent to which doctors and patients believed patients have personal control over their health. They also looked at prescription refill records over a 13-month period to see whether patients had enough blood pressure medication on hand.

If doctor and patient attitudes were in sync, patients only let their refills lapse about 12 percent of the days, on average. But if patients held higher control beliefs than their physicians, they went without their pills 18 percent of the time.

The study also found evidence that patient blood pressure may be less well maintained when doctor and patient control beliefs do not match.

"Patients who held high personal control beliefs about their health were 50 percent less likely to adhere to their medication regimen if they were being treated by physicians who didn't share this belief in strong patient control," Christensen said. "Frustration is one likely reason
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Contact: Becky Soglin
319-356-2731
University of Iowa - Health Science
Source:Eurekalert

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