Differences in physician and patient perceptions of uncomplicated UTI symptom severity: understanding the communication gap

Int J Clin Pract. 2007 Feb;61(2):303-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-1241.2006.01277.x.


Uncomplicated urinary tract infection (uUTI) is the most common bacterial infection encountered in clinical practice but evaluation and treatment of the illness vary considerably among physicians. The literature suggests that there is often a gap in the perception of symptom severity between physician and patient, a gap that may be a result of the different models they use to explain and manage disease, a result of misinformation or misconceptions about uUTIs, or a result of poor patient-physician communication. This gap in perceptions about uUTI may lead to poor patient care, decreased quality of life and increased antibiotic resistance. Good communication between patient and physician has been shown to result in improved health outcomes. Several approaches to improving communication during consultations have been described in the literature. Physician and patient education and their agreement about any disease, including uUTI can be expected to improve treatment compliance and reduce the incidence of recurrence of such infections. Future work should focus on improvement of communication during clinical consultations to encourage appropriate bidirectional sharing of clinical and patient information. Further research about behavioural risk factors for uUTI may allow evidence-based information to be used in educational programmes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Health
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Professional Practice*
  • Risk Factors
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urinary Tract Infections / drug therapy
  • Urinary Tract Infections / psychology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents