One in five Americans doesn’t have a personal GP, according to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. A new study has found that sticking to the same GP can prolong a patient’s life significantly.
Researchers found that going to the same doctor when having a health issue can reduce the risk of early death.
- The study included data from 22 smaller research papers in nine countries.
- The smaller studies zoomed in on the impact of “continuity of care” on the patient’s early mortality risk.
According to study authors, continuity of care means that there is a “repeated contact” between a person and a healthcare provider. More than 80% of the smaller studies revealed lower early mortality risk in patients benefiting from a continuity of care.
We were pleasantly surprised at the results,
Prof. Phil Evans of the University of Exeter Medical School said.
The major drawback of the newest research is that the study authors were not able to come up with a meta-analysis of the other studies. A meta-analysis would have offered an exact number for the decreased risk of early death.
Patients Build Up Trust with a Personal Doctor
Researchers explained that they couldn’t write a meta-analysis because the studies were very different. For instance, the previous studies failed to agree on a universal definition of “continuity of care.” Also, the follow-up periods in each study were different.
Study authors are confident that Americans could experience a prolonged life too if they stick to the same doctor despite the United States’ private healthcare system.
It remains unclear what triggered the lower mortality risk in patients having a repeated contact with the same doctor. It is worth noting that these patients are more likely to follow treatment recommendations because they trust their doctor more.
Evans said that the team can only “hypothesize” about the mechanism behind the newly found link. Past studies have shown that patients satisfied with their GP tend to opt for screening when he recommends so.
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