New York, July 20 : Ever witnessed your doctor rushing and hardly listening to your condition? It could be true, say researchers. Patients, on an average get just about 11 seconds to explain the reason for their visit before they are interrupted by their doctors, finds an analysis of clinical encounters.
The findings showed that doctors spend little time first listening to their patients and interrupt them often.
Only one in three doctors provide their patients with adequate opportunity to describe their situation.
Time constraints, not enough training on how to communicate with patients, and burnout experienced by physicians could be standing in the way of a more patient-centred approach, the researchers noted.
"Our results suggest that we are far from achieving patient-centred care," said Naykky Singh Ospina from the University of Florida, and the Mayo Clinic in the US.
For the study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the team analysed the initial few minutes of consultations between 112 patients and their doctors in various US clinics.
The results showed that in just over one third of the time (36 per cent), patients were able to put their agendas first.
But patients who did get the chance to list their ailments were still interrupted seven out of every ten times, on average within 11 seconds of them starting to speak.
In this study, patients who were not interrupted completed their opening statements within about six seconds.
Further, primary care doctors were found to allow more time than specialists and tended to interrupt less. It could be because specialists might skip the introductory step of agenda setting because they already know why a patient has been referred, Ospina explained.
"However, even in a specialty visit concerning a specific matter, it is invaluable to understand why the patients think they are at the appointment and what specific concerns they have related to the condition or its management," Ospina said.