Ann OMalley, MD, MPH, assistant professor of oncology at Georgetowns Lombardi Cancer Center, and Christopher B. Forrest, MD, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, concluded that primary care delivery sites organized to be more accessible, more willing to link patients with the same clinician for most visits, better able to provide for all of a womans health care needs, and better prepared to coordinate specialty care services are associated with stronger relationships between low-income women and their physicians.
The researchers found that women who rate their primary physicians care as more comprehensive are 11 times more likely to trust the physician and six times more likely to rate the physician as compassionate and communicative. Easy access to staff, willingness by the physician to help the patient deal with the complex nature of medical care, and readiness of the health care provider to coordinate care rather than to send the patient from specialist to specialist on her own strengthened the womens relationship with their physicians. Primary care systems that fail to emphasize these features of primary care may jeopardize the clinician-patient relationship and, indirectly, the quality of care and health outcomes, the study noted.
A strong patient-physician relationship is crucial to obtaining needed health services, OMalley said. Others have found that dissatisfaction with the patient-physician relationship is a leading predictor of health plan disenrollment, especially among women and nonwhite patients.