Background: There is general support for general practitioners (GPs) using patient-centred styles. However, there is limited British evidence of beneficial outcomes for patients from such styles.
Aim: To explore whether, for patients presenting for new episodes of care, the GP's consulting style, specifically the patient-centredness of the consultation, is related to five generic outcomes.
Method: General practitioners in South Wales were recruited, and one surgery consulting session was audiotape recorded for each participating clinician. Questionnaires were given to consenting patients before their consultations, immediately afterwards, and, by post, at two weeks to measure the following outcomes: doctor-patient agreement (on the nature of the problem and management), patient satisfaction, resolution of symptoms, resolution of concerns, and functional health status. From the patients consulting for a new episode of care and completing all three questionnaires, one patient was selected at random for each GP and the audiotape of their consultation rated for patient-centredness. Statistical analysis employed correlation coefficients and t-tests, followed by multiple regression and logistic regression to control for potential confounders.
Results: In total, 143 patients consulting 143 GPs were studied. The patient-centred score was positively and statistically significantly associated with patient satisfaction (Pearson correlation = 0.28; P = 0.002). No other associations were found with the other outcomes measured.
Conclusion: The study presents evidence that patient-centred styles of consulting produce benefits in terms of increased patient satisfaction for patients consulting for new episodes of care in Britain.