Can maintaining this relationship help you live longer?

Can maintaining this relationship help you live longer?

Staying with the same primary doctor or specialist over the long haul may better your health and lengthen your life, according to a recent study in the British Medical Journal.

Researchers reviewed previous studies that included data on almost 1.5 million patients from around the world. They found that over 80 percent of the results linked a longer doctor-patient relationship with decreased mortality.

The medical community calls this long-term relationship “continuity of care.” Previous studies have associated continuity of care with better treatment, increased patient satisfaction and decreased hospitalization, the researchers determined.

“Seeing the same patient over time allows the doctor to build a fuller picture of patient health,” says Dr. Donna C. Williams, an Advocate Medical Group family medicine physician on staff at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill. “We also can also improve trust and communication, which leads to better outcomes. These patients usually stay healthier for longer after office visits.”

Choosing a primary care physician is an important decision. Dr. Williams recommends that patients first ask themselves the following questions:

  • Is this doctor’s main location close to my home or office?
  • Are their work hours convenient for my schedule?
  • What do other patients say about this doctor?
  • Is this doctor part of a health care system with the resources I need?
  • Will this doctor be able to refer me to the proper specialists?
  • Does this doctor fully explain the available treatment options?

Get help finding a doctor now.

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Comments

3 Comments

  1. Great, so what are you doing to fight the corruption in the health insurance industry that forces people to change plans – and often doctors – every year?

  2. And to echo Dienne, when you grow older – I’m 85 – one runs out of the doctors we have had for years. I’m on the way to 100, and I don’t look forward to changing docs every year either.

  3. Having the same primary doctor can keep you in a rut. It never hurts to search for a more competent doctor if needed…

About the Author

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Elan Karoll

Elan Karoll, health enews contributor, is a public affairs intern at Advocate Health Care in Downers Grove, Illinois. He is a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studying communication with a focus on media and politics. Elan enjoys cooking, travel, the outdoors, watching new movies and seeing friends. He cares about empowering people with the information they need to make smart, healthy choices.