Inside AFP

New Feature Focuses on Patient-Physician Relationships



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Am Fam Physician. 2007 Apr 15;75(8):1132.

In this issue of AFP, we present a new feature—Close-ups: A Patient's Perspective (see page 1177). This department will focus on the human side of medicine. A patient's story, told in his or her own words, is accompanied by commentary from the patient's physician and resources to help physicians and patients. The goal is to keep the focus on the person, not just the illness, and the nuances of the doctor-patient relationship.

The development of new features in AFP doesn't happen over night. The idea for Close-ups was first discussed at one of our medical editors' meetings, as a possible replacement for “Diary From a Week in Practice,” which had been recently discontinued. It was interesting to note how the idea evolved. The medical and professional editors discussed a variety of possible ideas, all with the goal of focusing on the human side of medicine. Much of the discussion centered on keeping it focused on the patient, including a literary or artistic component, and focusing on the caring aspects of the patient encounter. We sought to answer the following questions: What does having a condition or illness mean to patients and their families; do physicians have time to “care”; and what do physicians enjoy about their work?

Caroline Wellbery, M.D., associate deputy editor, spearheaded this project and developed some early drafts. She contacted several of her colleagues to obtain their input on this new concept. She also partnered with Amy Crawford-Faucher, M.D., Tony Miksanek, M.D. (whom you may recognize as a former contributor to “Diary”), and Jo-Marie Reilly, M.D., to further develop the idea and write several drafts. The AFP medical editors were polled for more suggestions. You can read more about the background of this idea in Dr. Wellbery's editorial in this issue (see page 1156).

During the process, we also looked at reader research, surveys, and comment cards to help us determine reader interest and response to such a feature. During the annual Scientific Assembly last year, AFP editorial staff members visited with family physicians at the Publications booth, showed them drafts, and discussed their reaction to the idea. The concept was well received, and respondents looked forward to seeing it in AFP.

All in all, this whole process took several months. The goal was to ensure we developed a useful, interesting feature in AFP. The readers are our first concern, and we do everything we can to ensure that AFP's content is informative, interesting, and valuable to you.

Now It's Your Turn

We'd like your feedback on this new feature, which will be published in the second issue of each month. Feel free to comment on this first one, or wait until you've read a few more. You can mail the comment card or send an e-mail to afpedit@aafp.org.

Submission Guidelines

Submission guidelines for all AFP departments are available in the Authors' Guide at http://www.aafp.org/afp/ authors. If you are interested in sending a “Close-up,” your submission should include the following:

A patient story. The length should be about 250 words; however, if you wish to submit a slightly longer story for us to edit, you may do so. The story may come from a recorded interview with the patient, a written document prepared by the patient, or your paraphrasing of the patient's words. All submissions are subject to editing.

A commentary. Submit a few sentences (50 to 100 words) as your commentary on the story. Appropriate comments may be reflections on your relationship with the patient, obstacles you faced or overcame in treating the patient, or acknowledgment of the patient's struggles and achievements.

A patient photograph. The submission should include a high-quality digital photograph of the patient (preferably) or of something relevant to the story (e.g., crutches relating to an injury, a picture by the patient, a photograph relating to a hobby). For photograph quality guidelines, see the “Figures” section of the Authors' Guide.

List of resources. Provide one to four resources (e.g., self-help groups, medical organizations, Web sites) for further information about the key points discussed.

Signed patient consent, author statement, conflict of interest forms (obtained at http://www.aafp.org/afp/authors).

Questions about submissions may be sent to Caroline Wellbery, M.D., at wellberc@georgetown.edu.


Copyright © 2007 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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