Primary care physicians' discussion of emotional distress and patient satisfaction

Int J Psychiatry Med. 2007;37(3):331-45. doi: 10.2190/PM.37.3.i.


Objectives: To assess: a) the prevalence and determinants of self-reported emotional distress in the Israeli population; b) the rate of self-reported discussion of emotional distress with family physicians; and c) the association between such discussions and patient satisfaction with care.

Design: Retrospective, cross-sectional survey that was conducted through structured telephone interviews in Hebrew, Arabic, and Russian. This study was part of a larger study assessing patients' perceptions of the quality of health services.

Participants: A representative sample of 1,849 Israeli citizens aged 22 to 93 (response rate: 84%).

Independent variables: Gender, age, ethnicity (spoken language), education, income, self-reported chronic disease, self-reported episode(s) of emotional distress during the last year, and having discussed emotional distress with the family physician.

Outcome measure: satisfaction with care.

Results: 28.4% reported emotional distress and 12.5% reported discussion of emotional distress with a primary care physician in the past year. Logistic regression identified female gender, Arab ethnicity, low income, and chronic illness as independent correlates of emotional distress. These as well as Russian speakers and having experienced emotional distress during the past year were identified as independent correlates of discussion of emotional distress with the family physician. Patients who reported discussion of emotional distress with their family physician were significantly more satisfied with care.

Conclusions: Encouraging physicians to detect and discuss emotional distress with their patients may increase patient satisfaction with care, and possibly also improve patients' well-being and reduce health care costs.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arabs
  • Communication*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Israel / epidemiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Physicians, Family / statistics & numerical data*
  • Primary Health Care / standards
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*