Objective: Our goal was to identify physician and patient characteristics associated with patient-centered beliefs about the sharing of information and power, and to determine how these beliefs and the congruence of beliefs between patients and physicians affect patients' evaluations.
Study design: Physicians completed a scale assessing their beliefs about sharing information and power, and provided demographic information. A sample of their patients filled out the same scale and made evaluations of their physicians before and after a target visit.
Population: Physicians and patients in a large multispecialty group practice and a group model health maintenance organization were included. Forty-five physicians in internal medicine, family practice, and cardiology participated, as well as 909 of their patients who had a significant concern.
Outcomes measured: Trust in the physician was measured previsit, and visit satisfaction and physician endorsement were measured immediately postvisit.
Results: Among patients, patient-centered beliefs (a preference for information and control) were associated with being women, white, younger, more educated, and having a higher income; among physicians these beliefs were unrelated to sex, ethnicity, or experience. The patients of patient-centered physicians were no more trusting or endorsing of their physicians, and they were not more satisfied with the target visit. However, patients whose beliefs were congruent with their physicians' beliefs were more likely to trust and endorse their physicians, even though they were not more satisfied with the target visit.
Conclusions: The extent of congruence between physicians' and patients' beliefs plays an important role in determining how patients evaluate their physicians, although satisfaction with a specific visit and overall trust may be determined differently.