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Use of patients’ unsolicited correspondence to a family doctor to describe and understand valued components of a doctor-patient relationship: A Hermeneutics approach
BMC Family Practice ( IF 2.431 ) Pub Date : 2019-10-17 , DOI: 10.1186/s12875-019-1024-6
Mark J. Yaffe; Richard B. Hovey; Charo Rodriguez

Communication and behavior within doctor - patient encounters have been examined using varied techniques; however the nature of unsolicited writings from patients to their family doctors has rarely been reported. This paper therefore aimed to explore the content of, and motivation for, such correspondence. One hundred and seven writings to one family physician about care provided during a four decade period were considered. Univariate analyses were used to identify features of patients or family members who wrote personalized notes to the doctor, when, and in what fashion. A hermeneutic approach helped look at the content of the notes, the specific words or sentiments used to describe encounters or care received, and possible motivations for writing. Iterative review of words or phrases generated themes which summarized appreciated physician or relational attributes, as well as motivations for writing. Notes were mostly handwritten, predominantly by women, and frequently coinciding with holidays and life span events. Appreciated doctor characteristics and behaviors were (1) quality care; and physician (2) competence; (3) physical presence; (4) positive personal traits; (5) provision of emotional support; and (6) spiritual impact. Motivations for writing were grouped as desire to (1) express appreciation for an established relationship; (2) acknowledge value / benefit experienced from continuity of care; (3) seek catharsis, emotional relief or closure; (4) reflect on termination of care; (5) validate care that incorporates both Hippocratic tradition and Asklepian healing; and (6) share personal reflection, experience, or impact. Unsolicited writings provide personalized links from patients to physicians, expressing thoughts perhaps difficult to share face to face. They offer potential as teaching tools about the content of doctor-patient relationships; for example, the writers studied expressed appreciation for quality continuity care that was competent, considerate, and supportive of emotional and spiritual needs.
更新日期:2019-11-28

 

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