Sticking to one doctor is ‘a matter of life and death’

In the first ever study of this kind, a team of researchers from the United Kingdom has looked at the connection between seeing the same doctor over time and premature death rates.

Researchers at St Leonard’s Practice in Exeter and the University of Exeter Medical School — both in the United Kingdom — have conducted a systematic review into the link between continuity of care (seeing the same doctor regularly over time) and patient death rates.

The study is the first of its kind, and its findings may have vital implications for prioritizing the bettering of patient care and doctor-patient communication.

First study author Denis Pereira Gray and his colleagues analyzed 22 cohort and cross-sectional studies that explored continuity of care and patient mortality.

“Continuity of care,” explains study co-author Prof. Philip Evans, “happens when a patient and a doctor see each other repeatedly and get to know each other.”

“This,” he continues, “leads to better communication, patient satisfaction, adherence to medical advice, and much lower use of hospital services.”

That is exactly why the researchers were motivated to gather evidence of the importance of a consolidated doctor-patient relationship and the benefits that it can bring.

The results of the systematic review are now published in BMJ Open.

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