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Patient-Physician Interactions: Patients with IBS


Tori Socha

Orlando—Previous studies have demonstrated that an effective patient-physician relationship (PPR) can improve clinical outcomes in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, according to researchers, there are few data identifying the factors that constitute a positive patient-physician relationship.

The researchers recently conducted 3 structured focus groups with patients diagnosed with IBS. During the focus groups, 2 facilitators asked predetermined questions that elicited both positive and negative aspects of PPRs; follow-up questions were asked based on participant responses. Other questions addressed ways in which patients could take steps themselves to improve their PPRs.

Results of the focus groups were presented during a poster session at DDW. The poster was titled Factors Associated with Positive and Negative Patient-Physician Interactions: Results from Focus Groups with IBS Patients.

During the focus groups, all interactions were recorded and then transcribed. There were also assigned note takers, and, following each session, the note takers and facilitators held debriefing sessions.

The 3 groups totaled 12 patients; mean age was 42 years, 9 of the participants were female, 9 were white, and 3 were black. Six patients had been diagnosed with IBS with diarrhea.

The positive factors in PPRs most frequently endorsed were adequate time for visits, active listening, explicit plans for establishing a diagnosis, treatment and follow-up, thorough and understandable patient education, accessibility, and empathy. Negative factors cited by the participants were rushed visits, long waits, lack of physician accessibility, poor communication skills, lack of empathy, and lack of follow-up.

When asked about ways for patients to improve their PPR, the participants mentioned having improved knowledge of their health history and being more proactive and assertive during physician visits.

In summary, the researchers stated, “Factors associated with a positive PPR relate to global themes of patient education, communication skills, empathy, time management, and accessibility. These results can help providers take concrete steps to improve PPR, including training in patient-physician listening and communication, using high quality, understandable patient education materials, improving physician accessibility, and clearly conveying treatment plans to patients.”

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