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Doctor knows best is over, says thinktank report

14 May 2008

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The era of “doctor knows best” is over, a new report argues, and the GP–patient relationship must now be geared towards greater patient involvement.

The report – by thinktank Demos – argues that the GP–patient relationship must be “rethought for a less deferential age in which patients have access to vast amounts of medical information”.

It says that the traditional model of “doctor knows best” is being eroded, and that people, especially those with rare or chronic diseases, increasingly want to participate in their own treatments.

The report suggests GPs and policymakers must embrace patient engagement in medical treatment and healthcare, rather than stigmatising informed patients who have conducted internet research on their illness as “cyberchondriacs”.

Demos researcher and co-author of the study Jack Stilgoe said: “Any GP will recognise the patient who comes into their surgery carrying armfuls of printouts from the internet.

“But rather than groaning, doctors need to see this as a good thing. Patients are becoming experts too, and the NHS needs to acknowledge this and listen to them.

“As Lord Darzi puts the finishing touches to his review on the future of the NHS, the focus should be less about the mechanics of the system, and more about the people that are at the heart of healthcare.”


Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

“I think it is overstating the case to say that patients in general are becoming experts too. In some cases particulary in relation to chronic diseases clearly there is so much more information available that many are, but what terrifies me is those who have made their own internet based diagnosis and have not considered a full range of options are are absolutely insistent that they have some particular condition and want treating for it” – Name and address withheld