Length of consultation: how well do patient's choose?

J R Coll Gen Pract. 1987 Nov;37(304):498-9.


Patients attending a rural Berkshire surgery were invited to decide the length of appointment they required with the general practitioner. They were offered a choice of five minutes, 10 minutes, or longer, but the general practitioner was unaware of the time requested. Of 200 consecutive patients 115 requested five minutes, 80 requested 10 minutes and five requested longer. The mean consultation length of these groups was 6.5, 9.2 and 14.5 minutes, respectively. Patients given a diagnosis of psychiatric disorder were less accurate in their choice of time than any other diagnostic group. The results suggest that patients are generally good at estimating the time they require in consultation, and do not request over long appointments. It may thus be reasonable to allow patients to choose their consultation length.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Appointments and Schedules*
  • England
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Participation*
  • Time Factors