Items in AFP with MESH term: Physician-Patient Relations
ABSTRACT: Family physicians must proactively address the sexual health of their patients. Effective sexual health care should address wellness considerations in addition to infections, contraception, and sexual dysfunction. However, physicians consistently underestimate the prevalence of sexual concerns in their patients. By allocating time to discuss sexual health during office visits, high-risk sexual behaviors that can cause sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancies, and unhealthy sexual decisions may be reduced. Developing a routine way to elicit the patient's sexual history that avoids judgmental attitudes and asks the patient for permission to discuss sexual function will make it easier to gather the necessary information. Successful integration of sexual health care into family practice can decrease morbidity and mortality, and enhance well-being and longevity in the patient.
ABSTRACT: Men who have sex with men often do not reveal their sexual practices or sexual orientation to their physician. Lack of disclosure from the patient, discomfort or inadequate training of the physician, perceived or real hostility from medical staff, and insufficient screening guidelines limit preventive care. Because of greater societal stresses, lack of emotional support, and practice of unsafe sex, men who have sex with men are at increased risk for sexually transmitted diseases (including human immunodeficiency virus infection), anal cancer, psychologic and behavioral disorders, drug abuse, and eating disorders. Recent trends indicate an increasing rate of sexual risk-taking among these men, particularly if they are young. Periodic screening should include a yearly health risk and physical assessment as well as a thorough sexual and psychologic history. The physician should ask questions about sexual orientation in a nonjudgmental manner; furthermore, confidentiality should be addressed and maintained. Office practices and staff should be similarly nonjudgmental, with confidentiality maintained. Targeted screening for sexually transmitted diseases, depression, substance abuse, and other disorders should be performed routinely. Screening guidelines, while inconsistent and subject to change, offer some useful suggestions for the care of men who have sex with men.
ABSTRACT: Patients with personality disorders are common in primary care settings; caring for them can be difficult and frustrating. The characteristics of these patients' personalities tend to elicit strong feelings in physicians, lead to the development of problematic physician-patient relationships, and complicate the task of diagnosing and managing medical and psychiatric disorders. These chronic, inflexible styles of perceiving oneself and interacting with others vary widely in presentation. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed., these styles are categorized into three clusters based on their prominent characteristics: cluster A, the odd or eccentric (e.g., paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal); cluster B, the dramatic, emotional, or erratic (e.g., antisocial, borderline, histrionic, narcissistic); and cluster C, the anxious or fearful (e.g., avoidant, dependent, obsessive-compulsive). Knowledge of the core characteristics of these disorders allows physicians to recognize, diagnose, and treat affected patients. The goal of management is to develop a working relationship with patients to help them receive the best possible care despite their chronic difficulties in interacting with physicians and the health care system. Effective interpersonal management strategies exist for these patients. These strategies vary depending on the specific diagnosis, and include interventions such as the use of specific communication styles, the establishment of clear boundaries, limit setting on the patients' behavior and use of medical resources, and provision of reassurance when appropriate. Additionally, medications may be useful in treating specific symptoms in some patients.
ABSTRACT: Childhood bullying has potentially serious implications for bullies and their targets. Bullying involves a pattern of repeated aggression, a deliberate intent to harm or disturb a victim despite the victim's apparent distress, and a real or perceived imbalance of power. Bullying can lead to serious academic, social, emotional, and legal problems. Studies of successful antibullying programs suggest that a comprehensive approach in schools can change student behaviors and attitudes, and increase adults' willingness to intervene. Efforts to prevent bullying must address individual, familial, and community risk factors, as well as promote an understanding of the severity of the problem. Parents, teachers, and health care professionals must become more adept at identifying possible victims and bullies. Physicians have important roles in identifying at-risk patients, screening for psychiatric comorbidities, counseling families about the problem, and advocating for bullying prevention in their communities.
ABSTRACT: Ethnic minorities currently compose approximately one third of the population of the United States. The U.S. model of health care, which values autonomy in medical decision making, is not easily applied to members of some racial or ethnic groups. Cultural factors strongly influence patients' reactions to serious illness and decisions about end-of-life care. Research has identified three basic dimensions in end-of-life treatment that vary culturally: communication of "bad news"; locus of decision making; and attitudes toward advance directives and end-of-life care. In contrast to the emphasis on "truth telling" in the United States, it is not uncommon for health care professionals outside the United States to conceal serious diagnoses from patients, because disclosure of serious illness may be viewed as disrespectful, impolite, or even harmful to the patient. Similarly, with regard to decision making, the U.S. emphasis on patient autonomy may contrast with preferences for more family-based, physician-based, or shared physician- and family-based decision making among some cultures. Finally, survey data suggest lower rates of advance directive completion among patients of specific ethnic backgrounds, which may reflect distrust of the U.S. health care system, current health care disparities, cultural perspectives on death and suffering, and family dynamics. By paying attention to the patient's values, spirituality, and relationship dynamics, the family physician can elicit and follow cultural preferences.
ABSTRACT: Controversy surrounds the management options for localized prostate cancer-conservative management, prostatectomy, and radiation. Choosing among these options is difficult because of long-term side effects that include sexual, urinary, and bowel dysfunction. Some recent studies suggest that patients who have chosen treatment (i.e., radical prostatectomy or radiation) have longer disease-free survival compared with patients who have chosen conservative management (i.e., watchful waiting). However, several biases may artificially enhance the perceived value of treatment and make the interpretation of studies on treatment outcomes difficult. Sources of bias include lead time, length time, and patient selection. Because of the uncertain efficacy of management options and the risk of long-term treatment complications, family physicians need to engage their patients in the decision-making process.
ABSTRACT: Health literacy is basic reading and numerical skills that allow a person to function in the health care environment. Even though most adults read at an eighth-grade level, and 20 percent of the population reads at or below a fifth-grade level, most health care materials are written at a 10th-grade level. Older patients are particularly affected because their reading and comprehension abilities are influenced by their cognition and their vision and hearing status. Inadequate health literacy can result in difficulty accessing health care, following instructions from a physician, and taking medication properly. Patients with inadequate health literacy are more likely to be hospitalized than patients with adequate skills. Patients understand medical information better when spoken to slowly, simple words are used, and a restricted amount of information is presented. For optimal comprehension and compliance, patient education material should be written at a sixth-grade or lower reading level, preferably including pictures and illustrations. All patients prefer reading medical information written in dear and concise language. Physicians should be alert to this problem because most patients are unwilling to admit that they have literacy problems.
ABSTRACT: Support of patient self-management is a key component of effective chronic illness care and improved patient outcomes. Self-management support goes beyond traditional knowledge-based patient education to include processes that develop patient problem-solving skills, improve self-efficacy, and support application of knowledge in real-life situations that matter to patients. This approach also encompasses system-focused changes in the primary care environment. Family physicians can support patient self-management by structuring patient-physician interactions to identify problems from the patient perspective, making office environment changes that remove self-management barriers, and providing education individually and through available community self-management resources. The emerging evidence supports the implementation of practice strategies that are conducive to patient self-management and improved patient outcomes among chronically ill patients.
Management of the Difficult Patient - Article
ABSTRACT: All physicians must care for some patients who are perceived as difficult because of behavioral or emotional aspects that affect their care. Difficulties may be traced to patient, physician, or health care system factors. Patient factors include psychiatric disorders, personality disorders, and subclinical behavior traits. Physician factors include overwork, poor communication skills, low level of experience, and discomfort with uncertainty. Health care system factors include productivity pressures, changes in health care financing, fragmentation of visits, and the availability of outside information sources that challenge the physician's authority. Patients should be assessed carefully for untreated psychopathology. Physicians should seek professional care or support from peers. Specific communication techniques and greater patient involvement in the process of care may enhance the relationship.
ABSTRACT: For the most part, lesbians and bisexual women face the same health issues as heterosexual women, but they often have difficulty accessing appropriate care. Physicians can improve care for lesbians and bisexual women by acknowledging the potential barriers to care (e.g., hesitancy of physicians to inquire about sexual orientation and of patients to disclose their sexual behavior) and working to create a therapeutic physician-patient relationship. Taking an inclusive and nonjudgmental history and being aware of the range of health-related behaviors and medicolegal issues pertinent to these patients enables physicians to perform relevant screening tests and make appropriate referrals. Some recommendations, such as those for screening for cervical cancer and intimate partner violence, should not be altered for lesbians and bisexual women. Considerations unique to lesbians and bisexual women concern fertility and medico-legal issues to protect familial relationships during life changes and illness. The risks of suicidal ideation, self-harm, and depression may be higher in lesbians and bisexual women, especially those who are not open about their sexual orientation, are not in satisfying relationships, or lack social support. Because of increased rates of nulliparity, the risks of conditions such as breast and ovarian cancers also may be higher. The comparative rates of alcohol and drug use are controversial. Smoking and obesity rates are higher in lesbians and bisexual women, but there is no evidence of an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.