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Rx for time-crunched physicians
Date:7/14/2008

With their waiting rooms crowded and exam rooms full, many physicians say they are too busy to be good communicators. Those who study physician time-management think otherwise. Certain communication skills can foster efficiency and effectiveness during an office visit without sacrificing rapport with patients, according to researchers at the University of Washington (UW) and the University of Rochester.

Their guide to a smoother flow of communication between doctors and patients appears in the July 14 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. Their model is based on the authors' observation: "Effective communication in primary care must include skills that enhance the quality of care while helping patients and physicians use time wisely Making the best use of available time is important for visits of any duration."

The researchers are Larry Mauksch, a UW behavioral scientist in family medicine who studies and teaches doctor/patient communications; David C. Dugdale, an internal medicine physician and director of the UW Hall Health Primary Care Center; Sherry Dodson, UW clinical medical librarian; and Ronald Epstein, professor of family medicine, psychiatry, and oncology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and its Center to Improve Communication and Health Care.

A few of the lessons the researchers presented in the resulting article, "Relationship, Communication, and Efficiency in the Medical Encounter: Creating a Clinical Model from a Literature Review" are:

First, focus the purpose of the visit with the patient: Instead of addressing each issue as it surfaces, creating a list at the start enables the doctor to confirm which problem is most medically urgent or most important to the patient. This approach also reduces the "Oh, by the way" issues brought up at the end of the visit.

Then, understand the patient's perspective: Exploring the patient's viewpoint is useful for promot
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Contact: Leila Gray
leilag@u.washingtone.edu
206-685-0381
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert

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