Seeing the same doctor is a matter of life and death

June 28, 2018, University of Exeter
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A ground-breaking study has concluded that patients who see the same doctor over time have lower death rates.

The study, a collaboration between St Leonard's Practice in Exeter and the University of Exeter Medical School, is published today in BMJ Open. It is the first ever systematic of the relationship between rates and continuity of care—seeing the same doctor over time. The study analyses all the available evidence in the field to draw its conclusions.

Sir Denis Pereira Gray, of St Leonard's Practice, said: "Patients have long known that it matters which doctor they see and how well they can communicate with them. Until now arranging for to see the doctor of their choice has been considered a matter of convenience or courtesy: now it is clear it is about the quality of medical and is literally 'a matter of life and death'."

Professor Philip Evans, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said: "Continuity of care happens when a patient and a doctor see each other repeatedly and get to know each other. This leads to better communication, patient satisfaction, adherence to medical advice and much lower use of hospital services.

"As medical technology and new treatments dominate the medical news, the human aspect of has been neglected. Our study shows it is potentially life-saving and should be prioritised."

The study found that repeated patient-doctor contact is linked to fewer deaths. The effect applied across different cultures, and was true not just for family doctors, but for specialists including psychiatrists and surgeons as well.

The review analysed the results of 22 eligible high-quality studies with varying time frames. The studies were from nine countries with very different cultures and health systems. Of those, 18 (82%) found that repeated contact with the same doctor over time meant significantly fewer deaths over the study periods compared with those without continuity.

The review, Continuity of care with —a matter of life and death? A of continuity of care and mortality, is published in BMJ Open. Authors were Denis J Pereira Gray, Kate Sidaway-Lee, Eleanor White, Angus Thorne, and Philip H Evans.

Explore further: 24-hour primary care clinics would improve continuity of care

More information: BMJ Open (2018). DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-021161

Related Stories

24-hour primary care clinics would improve continuity of care

January 22, 2018
(HealthDay)—A 24-hour primary care clinic with multiple doctors offering round-the-clock care would actualize better and more sustainable care, according to a report published by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Seeing the same GP associated with fewer hospital admissions

February 1, 2017
Older patients who see the same general practitioner over time experience fewer avoidable admissions to hospital for certain conditions, finds a study published by The BMJ today.

Patients react better when doctors imply uncertainty, rather than state it directly

January 10, 2018
Choice of words might matter when doctors communicate uncertainty of diagnosis to their patients. A paper published in the International Journal for Quality in Health Care shows that the parents of pediatric patients may ...

Not having a regular doctor affects healthcare quality for older adults

March 16, 2018
About five percent of older adults on Medicare don't have a "personal physician," and this group scores lower on measures of healthcare quality, reports a study in the April issue of Medical Care.

Open, honest talk about death does no harm

December 4, 2017
Talking through bad news can be good for the doctor-patient relationship—debunking a common myth among patients, according to a study co-authored by the University of Rochester Medical Center's Wilmot Cancer Institute.

'Doctor shopping' by obese patients negatively affects health

May 21, 2013
Overweight and obese patients are significantly more likely than their normal-weight counterparts to repeatedly switch primary care doctors, a practice that disrupts continuity of care and leads to more emergency room visits, ...

Recommended for you

Emotional abuse may be linked with menopause misery

November 19, 2018
Smoking, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle have long been linked to heightened symptoms of menopause. Now, a study headed by UC San Francisco has identified another factor that may add to menopause torment: an emotionally ...

How AI could help veterinarians code their notes

November 19, 2018
A team led by scientists at the School of Medicine has developed an algorithm that can read the typed-out notes from veterinarians and predict specific diseases that the animal may have.

Bullying and violence at work increases the risk of cardiovascular disease

November 19, 2018
People who are bullied at work or experience violence at work are at higher risk of heart and brain blood vessel problems, including heart attacks and stroke, according to the largest prospective study to investigate the ...

A low-gluten, high-fiber diet may be healthier than gluten-free

November 16, 2018
When healthy people eat a low-gluten and fibre-rich diet compared with a high-gluten diet, they experience less intestinal discomfort including less bloating. Researchers at University of Copenhagen show that this is due ...

Youth dating violence shaped by parents' conflict-handling views, study finds

November 16, 2018
Parents who talk to their children about nonviolent ways of resolving conflict may reduce children's likelihood of physically or psychologically abusing their dating partners later—even when parents give contradictory messages ...

Why we shouldn't like coffee, but we do

November 15, 2018
Why do we like the bitter taste of coffee? Bitterness evolved as a natural warning system to protect the body from harmful substances. By evolutionary logic, we should want to spit it out.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.