Improving Medical Outcomes

The Psychology of Doctor-Patient Visits

By (author) Jessica Leavitt, Fred Leavitt

Hardback - £42.00

Publication date:

16 October 2011

Length of book:

256 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9781442203037

The problems faced by medical doctors and automobile mechanics are in some ways quite similar—something isn't working right and must be fixed. They must both figure out the cause of malfunctions and determine the appropriate treatments. Yet, the mechanic has no need to worry about an automobile's psyche; the specific mechanical factors are the only ones that come into play. In health care, however, the factors influencing outcomes are broader, more complicated, and colored by the underlying psychological factors of those involved. These factors have profound effects. Doctors are often influenced by patients' description of symptoms, yet information is often incomplete or inaccurate or colored by the patient's own experiences. The doctor's own demeanor may greatly affect outcomes, as can the doctor's ability to interpret the ever-expanding medical literature. These underlying influences are often not acknowledged, and yet they can have far-reaching consequences. Acknowledging these psychological factors and learning how to overcome them are the first steps in improving communications between doctors and patients and to improving diagnosis and treatment. Here, the authors offer strategies for remedying the situation and moving forward to a better understanding of doctor-patient visits and their outcomes.
Jessica Leavitt (member, California Board of Vocational Nursing & Psychiatric Technicians) and Fred Leavitt (psychology, California State Univ.; Evaluating Scientific Research) outline the psychological aspects of doctor-patient relationships and how they affect medical care. While aimed mostly at health-care providers and medical students, the book is accessible to consumers and can be a source of valuable information. It covers major areas of doctor-patient communication, including interpretation of medical information, decision making and bias, medical diagnosis and reducing diagnostic errors, prescribing drugs, the placebo effect, complementary and alternative medicine, and patient social-connectedness. The Leavitts show some of the pitfalls in communicating effectively with patients, making diagnostic decisions, interpreting medical information, and prescribing medication. Throughout, they alert physicians to these hazards and offer tips to help avoid them. Each chapter also concludes with a short list of tips for the patient. VERDICT Recommended for health-care providers, medical students, and doctors—this may be a source of interest to general readers with upcoming doctor’s appointments.