'Deep' relationship with your family physician can improve your health, reveals a study.
Researchers from University of Bristol in Britain have found that patients tend to open up and share their health concerns more with a doctor they have known for long.
"This could be because patients feel more comfortable raising additional issues with a doctor they feel they know well, or because more issues can be addressed within the time available as the doctor knows the patient and their medical history," said Matthew Ridd from Bristol University's school of social and community medicine.
"This research study is the first of its kind to show how seeing the same doctor can positively affect consultations," Ridd said.
The researchers collected data from 22 practices in Bristol and recorded consultations between 190 patients and 30 general physicians.
They looked at whether consultation length and the number of problems and issues raised were affected by patient-doctor continuity.
Analysis showed that almost a third of patients had a "deep" relationship with their doctor, which, in turn, encouraged them to raise 0.5 more problems (a topic requiring a doctor to make a decision or diagnosis) and 0.9 more issues (the number of topics raised within each problem, such as symptoms) during each consultation.
This may mean many more problems and issues are addressed over the course of several visits.
"Participants mostly reported a strong relationship with their doctor, built up over time. There was evidence that patients raised more problems and issues with doctors that they felt they had a deep relationship with," Ridd said.