Health care is changing for millions in America, but how does that impact how they interact with doctors and nurses?
In a study of more than 14 million adults, researchers found that health care professionals and their patients had dramatically different ways of thinking about health care.
The findings, published in the Journal of Health Psychology, show that healthcare professionals’ perceptions of their patients’ health are highly dependent on the type of care they are receiving.
People are more likely to talk about their health problems, and they are less likely to think about it in a negative way, when they are not getting care, said co-author Daniel M. C. Lips, a professor of psychology at the University of New Hampshire.
“When we are not seeing health care, we do not talk about it,” Lips said.
The study also found that people who have never been in a health care setting or had no interaction with healthcare professionals tended to view health care as less important than those who have experienced healthcare in a professional setting.
In addition, people who reported being satisfied with their health were more likely than those with less satisfied with health to feel that health professionals cared about their wellbeing.
Health care professionals’ positive attitudes toward healthcare can help to create the environment that fosters health care use and improve care outcomes, said study co-authors Christopher P. Zobrist and John C. Lehrmann, both of New York University.
They were surprised that the researchers found so much positive and negative interaction between healthcare professionals and patients, especially in settings where they have a shared experience.
“What is really exciting is that this is really consistent across the different settings, but there are a lot of interactions,” Zobris said.
“We were surprised to see that the most common things that were talked about in terms of health care are not necessarily things that are particularly positive or positive in their own right,” he added.
“In general, people tend to focus on their own health, and it’s not always clear how much is shared.”
Dr. Laura M. Miller, the chief medical officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges, said in an interview that the research does not imply that doctors and health care providers should focus exclusively on health.
Miller said the findings also provide important lessons for health care practitioners and providers to understand how to work together with patients.
In a statement, Miller said, “The health care industry has long been recognized for being an inclusive environment for all, but the work we’re doing today is taking us to a new level of inclusion.
I believe that this new understanding of how people engage with healthcare has the potential to create a more positive and healthy health care system.”
More than 4.2 million people in the United States have received care from a doctor or other healthcare professional since 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.