Studying physician effects on patient outcomes: Physician interactional style and performance on quality of care indicators

Peter Franks, Anthony F Jerant, Kevin Fiscella, Cleveland G Shields, Daniel J Tancredi, Ronald M Epstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

53 Scopus citations

Abstract

Many prior studies which suggest a relationship between physician interactional style and patient outcomes may have been confounded by relying solely on patient reports, examining very few patients per physician, or not demonstrating evidence of a physician effect on the outcomes. We examined whether physician interactional style, measured both by patient report and objective encounter ratings, is related to performance on quality of care indicators. We also tested for the presence of physician effects on the performance indicators. Using data on 100 US primary care physician (PCP) claims data on 1,21,606 of their managed care patients, survey data on 4746 of their visiting patients, and audiotaped encounters of 2 standardized patients with each physician, we examined the relationships between claims-based quality of care indicators and both survey-derived patient perceptions of their physicians and objective ratings of interactional style in the audiotaped standardized patient encounters. Multi-level models examined whether physician effects (variance components) on care indicators were mediated by patient perceptions or objective ratings of interactional style. We found significant physician effects associated with glycohemoglobin and cholesterol testing. There was also a clinically significant association between better patient perceptions of their physicians and more glycohemoglobin testing. Multi-level analyses revealed, however, that the physician effect on glycohemoglobin testing was not mediated by patient perceived physician interaction style. In conclusion, similar to prior studies, we found evidence of an apparent relationship between patient perceptions of their physician and patient outcomes. However, the apparent relationships found in this study between patient perceptions of their physicians and patient care processes do not reflect physician style, but presumably reflect unmeasured patient confounding. Multi-level modeling may contribute to better understanding of the relationships between physician style and patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-432
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume62
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2006

Keywords

  • Adherence
  • Multi-level analysis
  • Provider-patient communication
  • Quality of care
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Development
  • Health(social science)

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