Patterns of utilization of medical care & perceptions of the relationship between doctor & patient with chronic illness including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

To what extent do personal constructs affect the relationship

between doctor and patient when the ill patient does not

readily recover with treatment? Questionnaires were returned

anonymously by 609 patients with a self-reported diagnosis of

chronic fatigue syndrome, who were considered chronically

ill. Findings were compared with those of an earlier study of

a population of 397 general medical patients. The chronically

ill patients lost an average of 65 days of work per year due

to illness compared to general medical patients who missed six

or fewer days per year because they were ill. The chronically

ill patients also reported a 66% higher frequency of

iatrogenic illness, spent more money on health care, took

more medication, saw more specialists, and were more

litigious than the general medical population. Research

suggested several patterns of relationships between doctors

and patients, and attitudes to health and illness, which may

alert doctors to patients’ perceptions, beliefs, encoded

constructs, and patterns of relating that affect responses to

treatment. More attention by doctors to patients who are

experiencing the stress of chronic illness is indicated.

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