Do You Trust Your Doctor? — It’s Important For Your Health

On our Atrial Fibrillation patient education website,, we stress the importance of a good doctor-patient relationship. Indeed, recent research proves that patients do better when they have a good rapport with their doctor.

Results from Studies of Doctor-Patient Relationships

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital analyzed the results of 13 high-quality studies of doctor-patient relationships.

Those patients who were treated by doctors trained in “relationship-based strategies” — such as providing more eye contact, careful listening and goal setting — did better than patients in control groups.

According to Dr. Gerald B. Hickson of Vanderbilt, patients who trust their doctors are more likely to follow their advice, ask questions and discuss how treatments are working. Doctors in turn may be more engaged.

Recent research proves that patients do better when they have a good rapport with their doctor.

How to Select the Right Doctor for You

Don’t just go to a doctor because their office is nearby. Get referrals from friends and co-workers. Check credentials online. Narrow your list to 2–3 doctors then schedule a consultation appointment with your #1 choice.

When you meet the doctor, consider it an ‘interview’. Tell the doctor what you are looking for in your doctor (do need someone who’s easy to get to see, or someone with special expertise, or someone who will team with you to cure a specific illness, etc.)

Here’s an excerpt from our page, Finding the Right Doctor for You about assessing the doctor during your consultation appointment.

“…You’ll also want to assess the doctor’s manner and personality. Is this someone who will work with you? Someone who listens to how your symptoms makes you feel? Does this doctor inspire confidence? Is this someone you feel comfortable with and trust with your health care? Does he/she respect you?
Women in particular should be wary of condescending behavior. “It’s all in your mind.” “Take a Valium.” (Women in the US often don’t receive the proper diagnosis and treatment of their A-Fib.)
Rudeness, bad temper, boorish behavior, etc. from a doctor, no matter how highly recommended, should be a red flag for you. That kind of behavior is not only personally offensive but can be dangerous for your health.
Does the poor behavior also extend to how the doctor treats his staff? Patients of doctors “who don’t show respect for their medical staff have much higher rates of adverse effects, than patients of their more congenial colleagues.”
“As a patient, you’re also a member of the health-care team,” explains Gerald B. Hickson, MD of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
If your doctor is condescending or dismisses your concerns, you’re getting poor care. If a doctor is too busy to talk with you and answer your concerns, he’s probably too busy to take care of you properly.
But do give the doctor a break. They may be having a bad day or may have heard your questions too many times before.
If you have a poor experience with a doctor, say something. Contact the patient-relations representative at the medical center. They want to know if a doctor is rude (those patients are more likely to sue!). Once a doctor’s bad behavior is called to his attention, they are likely to do better. And so will you.”

If the first doctor you interview doesn’t meet your needs, move on the second doctor on your list, etc. Yes, I know it takes time and energy, but a good doctor-patient relationship is important. You’ll do better when you have a positive rapport with your doctor.

For more about selecting your doctor, go to: How to Find the Right Doctor for You and Your Treatment Goals.

About the Author: Dr. Steve Ryan, PhD, is a healthcare educator and advocate for patients with Atrial Fibrillation. He is publisher and author of Beat Your A-Fib: The Essential Guide to Finding Your Cure

References for this Article:
• Finding the Right Doctor for You. “Your consultation Appointments: ‘Questions for Doctors’ and Worksheet”;
• Shannonhouse, Rebecca. From the Editor: When a Good Doctor is Bad. Bottom Line Health, Volume 28, Number 12, December 2014.
• Shannonhouse, R. “Is Your Doctor a Bully?” Bottom Line Health, September 2013, p. 2.
Kelley, J. M, et al. The Influence of the Patient-Clinician Relationship on Healthcare Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. PLoS ONE 9(6): April 9, 2014. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0094207 Last accessed February 22 2015, URL:

Originally published at

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