Documents & Media
- Title Variant(s)
- Do primary care patients adequately assess the length of consultation in a general medical practice?
- Stunder, W.; Scherer, M.; Himmel, Wolfgang
- Objective: This study explored the association between the anticipated and the actual amount of time spent in consultation in a general medical practice and the possible consequences for patient satisfaction. Patients and methods: A total of 95 patients (mean age: 42.4; 55.8 % females) from one general practice were asked before their consultation how much time they anticipated spending with the (53-year-old) doctor. Answers were categorized as "overestimate" "accurate" or "underestimate". At the end of the consultation, patient satisfaction was documented by the patient filling in a standardized questionnaire. Associations between the actual duration of the consultation and the accuracy of the patients' estimate of the time of consultation, patient satisfaction and recorded possible explanatory variables (e.g., sex, age, psychosomatic problems) were analysed by multiple logistic regression. Results: Half of the patients (48/95) estimated that the consultation would last longer than it actually did. In contrast, significantly more patients with psychosomatic problems underestimated consultation length (38% vs. 10%; adjusted odds ratio = 6.9; 95% confidence interval = 1.9 to 24.3). The actual length of the consultation and patient satisfaction moderately correlated (Spearmans's rho correlation = 0.24 [p = 0.02]). If the length of consultation was shorter than expected, patients were somewhat more dissatisfied. Conclusion: Only about one-third of patients could accurately gauge ahead of time how long the consultation was going to take. Patients with psychosomatic or severe psychosocial problems took up the largest proportion of the doctor's time, but they significantly underestimated the time the doctor would actually spend with them. Both the predicted estimates of the duration and the actual time spent in consultation seem to influence to some extent patient satisfaction regarding the time spent with the doctor.
- Issue Date
- DMW - Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift
- Institut für Allgemeinmedizin