COVID-19 Has Created Barriers to Doctor-Patient Communication and Worsened Trust in Doctors

A recent study has revealed that the novel coronavirus disease or COVID-19 pandemic, as well as related restrictions such as lockdowns and physical distancing, have created barriers to doctor-patient communication and may have worsened trust in doctors.

Photo: COVID-19 Impact on Doctor-Patient Communication | InStyleHealth


Investigators cross-sectionally surveyed 359 individuals attending a tertiary care center in Chennai, India, seeking care at the outpatient department, in wards, or in isolation facilities. Participants were asked to respond to a questionnaire created to assess perceptions in three major areas: difficulties in accessing the health facility, difficulties in doctor-patient communication, and trust in doctors.

The majority of the participants either agreed or somewhat agreed that the lockdown made it difficult for them to access health facilities. Furthermore, physical distancing, facial masks, and personal protective equipment often made it difficult to understand doctor’s instruction, weakening the patient-doctor communication, according to over 60% of the participants who responded the survey.

More than 80% of respondents, nonetheless, said that they still trusted doctors, indicated by their high level of respect and belief that physicians do what is in their patients’ best interests.

Utilizing multivariable linear regression analysis, on the other hand, revealed that difficulties in communication, as well as a higher level of education, was a significant deterrent to trust.

Researchers said that, “The COVID-19 experience has taught us that during pandemic times, while it is important to focus on public health measures, it is equally important to keep people at the center of the healthcare enterprise.”

The study, added the experts, further contributed to this idea by clearly indicating that doctor-patient communication and trust are very important considerations during pandemic times.

 

Source: PLoS One 2021;doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0253497

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