Non-medical providers rated higher in patient outcomes and satisfaction

Interpersonal skills make a big difference in outcome and patient satisfaction.

There are many differences between allopathic medicine and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Most importantly, CAM providers (for the most part) don’t use drugs to address health issues.

Also, there are major distinctions in the way we interact with patients, which is one reason why chiropractic and other non-medical health care approaches are proving more effective and scoring higher marks in “patient satisfaction.”

While this has been noted for many years, it was verified once again in a study conducted in Switzerland and published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine in November.

The study was part of a nationwide evaluation of complementary and alternative medicine in Swiss primary care. The aim of the study was to compare patient-physician relationships and the respective patient-reported relief of symptoms between CAM and conventional primary care (COM).

A total of 6,133 adult patients who had visited either a CAM or conventional practitioner in the past month were surveyed. Of the 170 doctors visited by these patients, 77 were CAM and 71 were conventional medical providers. Patients completed a questionnaire aimed at symptom relief, patient satisfaction, fulfillment of expectations, and quality of patient-physician interaction.

An analysis of the responses showed that CAM physicians treated significantly more patients with chronic conditions than COM physicians. CAM patients had significantly higher healing expectations than patients of conventional medicine.

According to the researchers, the study showed “better patient-reported outcomes of CAM in comparison to COM in Swiss primary care, which is related to higher patient satisfaction due to better patient-physician communication of CAM physicians. More effective communication patterns of these physicians may play an important role in allowing patients to maintain more positive outcome expectations.”

SOURCE: “Differences in the quality of interpersonal care in complementary and conventional medicine,” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2010, 10:63doi:10.1186/1472-6882-10-63; November 4, 2010. Abstract online