Observational study of effect of patient centredness and positive approach on outcomes of general practice consultations

BMJ. 2001 Oct 20;323(7318):908-11. doi: 10.1136/bmj.323.7318.908.


Objective: To measure patients' perceptions of patient centredness and the relation of these perceptions to outcomes.

Design: Observational study using questionnaires.

Setting: Three general practices.

Participants: 865 consecutive patients attending the practices.

Main outcome measures: Patients' enablement, satisfaction, and burden of symptoms.

Results: Factor analysis identified five components. These were communication and partnership (a sympathetic doctor interested in patients' worries and expectations and who discusses and agrees the problem and treatment, Cronbach's alpha=0.96); personal relationship (a doctor who knows the patient and their emotional needs, alpha=0.89); health promotion (alpha=0.87); positive approach (being definite about the problem and when it would settle, alpha=0.84); and interest in effect on patient's life (alpha=0.89). Satisfaction was related to communication and partnership (adjusted beta=19.1; 95% confidence interval 17.7 to 20.7) and a positive approach (4.28; 2.96 to 5.60). Enablement was greater with interest in the effect on life (0.55; 0.25 to 0.86), health promotion (0.57; 0.30 to 0.85), and a positive approach (0.82; 0.52 to 1.11). A positive approach was also associated with reduced symptom burden at one month (beta=-0.25; -0.41 to -0.10). Referrals were fewer if patients felt they had a personal relationship with their doctor (odds ratio 0.70; 0.54 to 0.90).

Conclusions: Components of patients' perceptions can be measured reliably and predict different outcomes. If doctors don't provide a positive, patient centred approach patients will be less satisfied, less enabled, and may have greater symptom burden and higher rates of referral.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Family Practice / standards*
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Observation
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Patient-Centered Care*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome