Objective: To improve functional status among primary care patients.
Intervention: 1) Computer-generated feedback to physicians about the patient's functional status, the patient's self-reported "chief complaint," and problem-specific resource and management suggestions; and 2) two brief interactive educational sessions for physicians.
Design: Randomized controlled trial.
Setting: University primary care clinic.
Participants: All 73 internal medicine house officers and 557 of their new primary care patients.
Measures: 1) Change in patient functional status from enrollment until six months later, using the Functional Status Questionnaire (FSQ); 2) management plans and additional information about functional status abstracted from the medical record; and 3) physician attitude about whether internists should address functional status problems.
Results: Emotional well-being scores improved significantly for the patients of the experimental group physicians compared with those of the control group physicians (p < 0.03). Limitations in social activities indicated as "due to health" decreased among the elderly (> or = 70 years of age) individuals in the experimental group compared with the control group (p < 0.03). The experimental group physicians diagnosed more symptoms of stress or anxiety than did the control group physicians (p < 0.001) and took more actions recommended by the feedback form (p < 0.02).
Conclusions: Computer-generated feedback of functional status screening results accompanied by resource and management suggestions can increase physician diagnoses of impaired emotional well-being, can influence physician management of functional status problems, and can assist physicians in improving emotional well-being and social functioning among their patients.