Physician Communication and Patient Adherence to Treatment

A Meta-Analysis

The connection between a patient adhering to a physician’s recommendations and the physician’s communication skills has been well documented in research literature. The way a physician communicates with his or her patient affects outcome of care, including patient satisfaction, health status, recall of information and adherence. The authors consider the results of certain research studies between 1949 and 2008 to see if there is an overall positive correlation between physician communication and patient adherence. In addition, the researchers analyzed the results of studies that looked at whether physician training in communication skills also has an effect on patients adhering to recommendations.

Key Findings:

  • Out of 106 correlational studies analyzed, all but two showed a positive correlation between physician communication and patient adherence.
  • The odds of a patient adhering were 2.1 times greater for those whose physician was a good communicator.
  • Out of 21 experimental interventions analyzed, the effect of physician training on patients’ adherence was positive.
  • The odds of a patient adhering were1.62 times greater if his or her physician had been trained in communication skills.
These findings may help design interventions that address patient non-adherence to a physician’s recommendations.