Friday, October 11, 2013

Why doctors need to tailor their style to meet their patient’s needs

Lots of doctors who don’t like entertaining questions from their patients .  They prefer that their patients just passively follow their advice. If patients want to discuss alternatives or options ,  they get irate. These doctors are very paternalistic in their approach and believe that patients should just blindly follow their doctor’s orders , because they need to trust the doctor, who is the expert. They feel that when patients do their homework or try to explore options, they just end up confusing themselves. They also believe that this approach suggests that the patient does not trust the doctor – and that this kind of doubting attitude will interfere with healing and result in poor medical outcomes.

On the other hand, there are doctors who discuss all possible options with their patients and also let them make a choice about the treatment procedure. These doctors allow patients to choose what they feel is their best option, rather than try to decide for the patient. They feel it’s the patient’s prerogative to make decisions, and since they cannot read the patient’s mind, they are happy to let him decide for himself. They see their role as a facilitator or coach. They don’t like patients who just want the doctor to tell them what to do. Instead, they prefer an aware patient , who asks questions and explores alternatives. 

The latter approach seems to be more sensible as the doctor treats the patient as an adult and a responsible partner. However, there are some patients who don’t like these kinds of doctors and often complain that such doctors aren’t able to make up their own mind ! These types of patients prefer authoritative doctors who tell them what to do , as opposed to giving them options and choices. They don’t like to weigh the pros and the cons of their condition as they feel their opinions could create more confusion . They get paralysed when asked to analyse !

Such patients prefer to consult senior doctors who tell them what to do, akin to a father figure. They don’t want to use their own mind and want to trust experts and professionals to make critical decisions for them. Personally , I don’t believe one type of doctor is better another. According to me, a good doctor should tailor his approach according to the patient’s needs. If a patient expects an authoritative figure, then giving him options will not satisfy his needs. On the other hand, patients who are wise and want to discuss their options , should be offered this opportunity.

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