Physicians Often Misjudge Patient Beliefs

HERSHEY, Pa., July 28 (UPI) — Doctors often guess wrong about their patients’ health beliefs, U.S. researchers found.

Dr. Richard Street from Texas A&M University in College Station and Dr. Paul Haidet of Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in Hershey found patients’ health beliefs differ from their physicians’ perception of these beliefs, and suggest doctors pay more attention to what their patients have to say.


The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, found physicians generally do not have a good understanding of patient’s health beliefs, but their understanding is significantly better when patients more actively participate.

“If physicians had a better understanding of their patients’ beliefs about health, they could address any misconceptions or differences of opinion they had with the patient regarding the nature, severity, and treatment of their illnesses as well as make treatment recommendations better suited to the patient’s life circumstances,” Street said in a statement. “Encouraging the patient to be more involved in the consultation by expressing their beliefs and concerns is one way physicians can gain this understanding.”

Street, Haidet and colleagues analyzed 207 audio-recorded physician-patient consultations as well as surveys about the cause, treatment and other aspects of the patients health condition conducted by both physicians and patients after the consultation. Physicians were also asked about how they thought the patients responded.

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