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Do We Know What Patients Want? The Doctor-Patient Communication Gap in Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

Authors
Journal
Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology
1542-3565
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
7
Issue
11
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.cgh.2009.06.025
Disciplines
  • Communication
  • Medicine

Abstract

Background & Aims Understanding patients' expectations at initial consultation for functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) might influence future health care utilization. Ideally, patients and doctors would have a common understanding of the issues involved. We sought to investigate this with matched questionnaires. Methods Patients' needs/expectations/understanding were compared with gastroenterologists' and general practitioners' awareness of these. Patients were followed up to investigate satisfaction with and outcomes of specialist consultation. Results Specialists underestimated the number and severity of patients' symptoms (in 43% and 41%, respectively), and patients and specialists had quite discordant views on what treatment would best suit their symptoms. Strikingly, only 1 of 13 patients available for follow-up agreed with or accepted the functional diagnosis, despite all being diagnosed by a specialist as having an FGID. Conclusions In FGIDs there is a communication gap between patients and gastroenterologists. Importantly, at follow-up, patients do not acknowledge their FGID diagnosis. This communication gap and lack of acceptance of a functional diagnosis are likely to influence future management and health care utilization.

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