What are the advantages of always seeing the same doctor?
Health problems are becoming more common, especially in old age. For this reason, more and more visits to the doctor are necessary. Researchers have now found that having people see the same doctor every time reduces the risk of premature death.
The researchers at the University of Exeter and the University of Manchester found that when people needed medical treatment, they should always go to the same doctor every time they need medical attention. This leads to a reduced risk of premature death. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "BMJ Open".
Connection between doctor and patient is very important
Earlier studies had shown that continuity of care has a number of advantages, such as patients following medical advice more closely, better acceptance of vaccines and other preventive measures, and less hospitalization in emergencies. Now the researchers have also apparently found a link to mortality, suggesting that the link between patients and their doctors may be more important than previously thought. At a time when new machines and new technologies are always at stake, the current study shows that the human side of medicine is still very important and is even a matter of life or death, explains study author Sir Denis Pereira Gray from the University of Exeter.
The results of 22 studies were analyzed
The research team analyzed the results of 22 studies, all of which have been published since 2010. These took place in a total of nine different countries, from the USA to England, South Korea and Israel. Although the studies were too different (in terms of implementation) to collate and analyze their results, the team found that 18 of the studies showed a clear correlation between increased continuity of care and lower death rates.
Phenomenon applies to specialists and general practitioners
For example, if a patient had colorectal surgery in a hospital, the risk of dying within a year doubled if the patient visited another surgeon instead of having all the operations done by the same surgeon. This phenomenon applies to both specialists and general practitioners, says Gray. Studies have been analyzed that included surgeons and psychiatrists, so the effect appears to be across medicine, the expert adds.
Doctors need to build knowledge about their patients
The current study supports previous work that suggests that patients feel more comfortable when they can discuss and discuss problems with their doctor. This enables doctors to build up knowledge about patients, which means that they can better organize counseling and treatment, the scientists explain. When people get sick or have multiple health problems, they may need to see a wider range of doctors and are also at greater risk of premature death. The researchers said that many of the studies have attempted to address this issue.
Doctors must have enough appointments to build a relationship
When people are sick, it is very worrying for them and it is very important to have someone you can trust and talk to about problems and illness, the doctors say. Continuity of care is a good thing, but it can be difficult for some doctors to get an appointment. Only if there are enough options for appointments can doctors and patients begin to build a relationship, the study authors concluded. (as)