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Updated: November 8, 2013 23:58 IST

Doctor-patient exchange matters, says study

R. Ravikanth Reddy
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Research conducted at the University of Hyderabad revealed that that there was significant drop in the blood pressure of patients where the quality of communication was high, compared to the others

The quality of communication between the doctor and the patient has a significant impact on the latter’s adherence to prescription, and thereby on prognosis, says a study.

The lack of such communication is leading to unnecessary complications even among the urban and educated, revealed research by the Centre for Health Psychology at the University of Hyderabad (UoH).

The study by research scholar Sunayana Swain, was conducted on 300 patients with primary hypertension, all of whom were in the age group of 30 to 65 years. Thirty doctors – cardiologists and physicians – examined 10 patients each.

During the study, doctors were not provided data as to which patients measured high or low on quality of information. The doctors’ ratings on prognosis and the measures of blood pressure were taken.

Results of the test revealed that there was significant drop in the blood pressure of patients where the quality of communication was high, compared to the others.

“The blood pressure readings correlated with the independent ratings of doctors based on other clinical aspects,” said Prof. Meena Hariharan, who monitored the study.

The ‘Similarity Index’ was used to quantify doctor-patient communication. The technique takes into consideration two-way communication.

Prof. Hariharan says the research assumes significance in the context of the rise in primary hypertension among Indian youth.

While patients diagnosed with the disease were aware of the fact that they have to be regular with medication, most do not know the repercussions of being irregular. The same was true of the need to follow a prescribed lifestyle – most were ignorant of its impact on physiology. In such circumstances, the communication between doctors and patients assumes all the more significance, she says.

The results also suggested that effective training in quality communication can bring about cost-effective benefits. Since the doctor patient ratio is abysmal in the country (One doctor for 1,000 patients), the consultation time a doctor allocates to each patient is limited.

So there is a pressing need for inclusion of Health Psychologists in hospitals to enhance the quality care, the research suggests.

The study was conducted under the guidance of Prof. C.R.Rao and Dr. Suvashisa Rana, apart from Prof. Hariharan.

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