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Study finds patients agree on ideal physician behaviors

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- A study of Mayo Clinic patients has found seven behaviors define the 'ideal' physician and supports an Institute of Medicine recommendation that quality medical care should include a patient-centered approach.

The Mayo Clinic-led study was designed to develop a comprehensive set of ideal physician behaviors. Telephone interviews were conducted in 2001 and 2002 with 192 patients who were seen in 14 medical specialties of Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Rochester.

Published in the March issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the article was based on transcripts of patients detailing their best and worst experiences with a Mayo Clinic physician. From the transcripts, study authors identified seven behaviors that describe the ideal physician -- confident, empathetic, humane, personal, forthright, respectful and thorough.

Conversely, patients who described a "worst physician" experience focused on traits reflecting opposites of desired physician behaviors, especially perceived insensitive or disrespectful behavior.

The study suggests that training new and practicing physicians about interpersonal skills could have far-reaching effects for patients. The quality of a patient's relationship with a physician can affect not only a patient's emotional responses, but also behavioral and medical outcomes such as compliance and recovery.

An editorial in the same issue expands on the patient-physician relationship, saying health institutions ought to follow the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine to improve quality by fostering a patient-centeredness approach to medicine.

James Li, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic Division of Allergic Diseases, writes in an editorial that health care can't meet a standard of quality if the patient-physician interaction is hurried, disrespectful, cold or callous. Dr. Li has been involved with developing programs and curricula for teaching new and practicing physicians at Mayo
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7-Mar-2006


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