Abstract: Doctor-Patient Interaction: Standardized Patients’ Reflections from Inside the Rheumatological Office

Objective: To assess appreciation and quality of doctor-patient interaction by exploring standardized patients’ (SP) opinions on aspects of the interaction between doctors and standardized patients.

Methods: A focus group interview was organized with SP who had completed 254 incognito visits to 26 Dutch rheumatologists in a study assessing rheumatologists’ daily practice performance; 13 of 16 SP attended the interview. Patients discussed aspects of interaction with the physicians. The interview was audiotaped and transcribed literally. Recurring themes were identified.

Results: Participants were on the whole very satisfied with the rheumatological care received. Factors contributing to satisfaction included “being approached as a person,” “being treated respectfully,” and “being given enough room to mention all complaints.” On the other hand, SP were struck by the variation in performance among the rheumatologists.

Conclusion: Physicians may not be aware of the influence of their behavior on patients. Most critical comments from patients regarding communication and behavior were on small things, which should not be too difficult to change in daily practice.

(J Rheumatol 2002;29:1496-500)

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