With all the changes in health care in the last decade, physicians are concerned that patients are feeling shortchanged. Take heart. A new survey indicates that patients are much more satisfied with many aspects of the doctor-patient relationship than physicians think.

Let's talk about communication. Sixty-four percent of the 1,567 patients who participated say they are extremely or very satisfied with the way doctors communicate with them. On average, four hundred physicians thought that only 46 percent of patients would respond as favorably. Sixty percent of patients said they were satisfied with the level of compassion doctors express, while doctors predicted that only 52 percent of their patients would feel that way.

The survey, conducted by Yankelovich Partners for Pfizer Medical Humanities Initiative, is a "snapshot" taken last November. Data were arranged in several demographic categories, including region.

SOURCE: PFIZER MEDICAL HUMANITIES INITIATIVE'S SURVEY OF THE KEY PATIENT-PHYSICIAN RELATIONSHIP IN AMERICA, CONDUCTED BY YANKELOVICH PARTNERS, 1998

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