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Wishes of unspoken patients

According to a new report patients who do not express their requests feel less satisfied with their physicians and find less improvement in their symptoms. A doctor need not tell a patient everything on his mind. One may feel anxious and forget what you meant to ask about, he or she may seem rushed, or it may be that the relationship between the two of you is not as open and trusting as it could be.//

Researchers at the University of Texas have collected data on 'unexpressed wishes' from 800 patients. They filled in a questionnaire about their concerns before and after a physician visit. And 30 physicians were asked to rate the visit itself.

Nine per cent of patients reported there were requests they wanted to make of the doctor, but had not. These included asking for a referral to a specialist, asking for a specific diagnostic test, or wanting help with paperwork. In these cases, the patients also experienced less improvement in their symptoms and felt less satisfied with their physician than those who were able to express their wishes.

The doctors also sensed the patients' unease - when dealing with these people, they reported finding the visit 'demanding' even though it wasn't clear what the demands were. Doctors and patients can do much to improve this situation. The doctor can become more aware to what is not being said and try to encourage an atmosphere of openness. Meanwhile, the patient should find the confidence to speak up! These days, the doctor-patient relationship should be a two-way process.


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