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26-03-2018 | Patient engagement | Review | Article

Physician–patient communication in rheumatology: a systematic review

Rheumatology International

Authors: Sofia Georgopoulou, Louise Prothero, David P. D’Cruz

Publisher: Springer Berlin Heidelberg


The nature of physician–patient interaction can have a significant impact on patient outcomes through information-sharing and disease-specific education that can enhance patients’ active involvement in their care. The aim of this systematic review was to examine all the empirical evidence pertaining to aspects of physician–patient communication and its impact on patient outcomes. A systematic search of five electronic databases (MEDLINE, PsycINFO, EMBASE, CINAHL, and Web of Science) was undertaken from earliest record to December 2016. Studies were eligible if they: (1) included adult participants (18 years or over) with a diagnosis of a rheumatic condition; (2) were of quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods design; (4) were surveys, observational and interventional studies; (5) were published in the English language; and (6) reported findings on either various physician–patient communication aspects alone or in combination with physical and psychological outcomes. Searches identified 455 papers. Following full-text retrieval and assessment for eligibility and quality, ten studies were included in the review; six quantitative, one mixed methods, and three qualitative papers. Higher levels of trust in the physician and active patient participation in the medical consultation were linked to lower disease activity, better global health, less organ damage accrual, greater treatment satisfaction with fewer side effects from the medication, more positive beliefs about control over the disease, and about current and future health. Future research could focus on the design and implementation of interventions incorporating communications skills and patient-education training.

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