Bristol Uni GP Practice Research

Seeing a named family doctor can help improve a patients' health, research by Bristol Uni suggests.

Doctor

Patients are more likely to share problems with a GP who they know well, according to the new study. Despite the advantage of seeing one GP, one in four patients find it difficult to see the doctor of their choice, the researchers said.

The authors, from the University of Bristol, said that seeing the same GP is thought to be important in ensuring quality of patient care, as the doctor will have better knowledge of the patient's history and medications.

The researchers collated data from 22 practices in the Bristol area, recording consultations between 190 patients and 30 GPs. They examined whether the number of issues raised were affected by the continuity of seeing just one doctor. The authors found that patients were more likely to raise a health problem with a doctor they've seen over time and have built-up a relationship with.

Almost a third of patients were deemed to have a ``deep'' relationship with their GP. These patients were more likely than others to raise problems and issues with their general practitioner.

On average, those close to their family doctor raised 0.5 more problems - an issue requiring a decision or diagnosis - and 0.9 more issues - the number of topics raised within each problem, such as symptoms.

Dr Matthew Ridd, from Bristol University's School of Social and Community Medicine, said:

"Participants mostly reported a strong relationship with their GP, built-up over time. There was evidence that patients raised more problems and issues with GPs that they felt they had a deep relationship with. This could be because patients feel more comfortable raising additional issues with a GP they feel they know well, or because more issues can be addressed within the time available as the GP knows the patient and their medical history.

This research study is the first of its kind to show how seeing the same doctor can positively affect consultations.''

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