Iowa City, Iowa -- Family doctors routinely have questions about patient conditions and procedures the doctors should take, but most of the time the answers are not pursued, according to a University of Iowa Health Care study.
John W. Ely, M.D., associate professor of family medicine and lead author of the recently published paper, said doctors are often pressed for time in finding answers to their own medical questions, but also perceive the answers to their questions as too hard to find or non-existent.
"Doctors are constantly told we need to ask the right questions before we can get the right answers," Ely said. "But maybe textbook authors need to make the information they put in their books better fit the questions that doctors do have."
Ely said the goal in researching what questions doctors ask themselves, about their patients and the care they need, and how they find the answers is ultimately to find better and faster ways of answering those questions. He found that if doctors do attempt to research their queries, they mostly consult textbooks that are often unhelpful.
"Textbook authors often don't know what to put in their books, so they just guess," Ely said. "This area is one that hasn't been studied much, although asking questions is a frequent thing for doctors to do. But nobody, especially the authors of books that doctors use to answer common questions, really knows what kind of questions are asked, the amount, and the time they take."
Ely and his colleagues studied 103 Eastern Iowa family doctors, following each doctor at their practice for two half-days. The researchers sought to have the doctors share any and all questions, even the "vague, fleeting uncertainties that [doctors] would normally keep to [themselves]." After 21 months, Ely and his team tabulated 1,101 questions.
The researchers organized these questions into topics and general types and
determined some key trends. Doctors had the most questions about drug
Contact: David Pedersen
University of Iowa