What does it take to satisfy a patient?
In the case of irritable bowel syndrome, at least, it looks like some factors are out of the doctor's control, according to University at Buffalo researchers.
A study of 483 irritable bowel syndrome patients found satisfaction with their care was unrelated to the severity or duration of their symptoms or the impact the condition had on their lives.
“Ideally, patient satisfaction should be strictly based on how care is delivered,” Dr. Jeffrey Lackner, professor in the Department of Medicine in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said in a statement. “But patient satisfaction is a subjective construct that is influenced by factors beyond quality of care."
Irritable bowel syndrome is a common disorder of the intestines that leads to cramps, bloating and changes in bowel habits. Participants were being evaluated for a National Institutes of Health-funded trial Lackner is leading on the efficacy of non-drug treatments. Lackner, senior author of the study, presented the results at a recent medical meeting.
He noted that patient satisfaction, although difficult to characterize, has significant implications for patient loyalty, adherence to treatment, readmission rates and physician reimbursement.
Among other things, the researchers found that the more diagnostic tests, such as colonoscopies, that patients underwent, the more satisfied they were, but only if they were being seen by a gastroenterologist, suggesting it may have been reassurance from a specialist that predicted patient satisfaction.
The research was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
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