Elderly expectations of medical care easy to satisfy but complicated

University Park, Pa. Elderly patients may be satisfied with their physicians, even though they were concerned about the physician's technical proficiency or they had been misdiagnosed in the past, according to Penn State researchers. "We found that elderly patients were satisfied with their physicians when their expectations for care were met," says Judith E. Hupcey, assistant professor, School of Nursing. "Trust was more complex, since elders can be satisfied with their provider but not trust the provider, or trust but not be satisfied.

"Our study found that if patients were treated by physicians who they really liked and were very caring, they might not leave the practice even if they were misdiagnosed and, therefore, did not trust the physician. They would, however, be more vigilant and therefore monitor their visits more closely."

Hupcey, Mary Beth Clark, assistant professor of nursing and Christina Hutcheson and Virginia Thompson, recent master's degree recipients, used focus groups to investigate interactions of elderly, community-dwelling outpatients and their primary care physicians. In Hupcey's previous work looking at hospitalized patient and healthcare provider interactions, she found that the most important factor was having expectations for care met.

"This present study supported the earlier work that meeting expectations for care is one of the key issues between patients and providers," Hupcey told attendees at the Scientific Session of the Eastern Nursing Research Society today (March 23) on Penn State's University Park Campus.

Patient's expectations for care fell into three categories: sense of caring, technical proficiency, and an efficient and friendly office environment. Physicians who connected personally with patients, spent a little more time with them or at least appeared to, or office assistants who connected personally achieved good marks for caring. A sense of humor and a call with test results also went a lon

Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
Penn State

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