Rebuilding an Enduring Trust between Doctor – Patient Relationship

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✍🏻By Special Correspondent

National Doctor’s Day, a day to acknowledge and express gratitude to our medical doctors who work tirelessly day and night to ensure our well-being. Keeping this in mind, Indian Medical association – Bengal along with Rotary Club of Calcutta celebrated Doctor’s Day, followed by various activities like blood donation camp where total 75 people participated, felicitation of 50 eminent doctors as well as a panel discussion on Doctor–Patient Relationship. The Day witnessed the gracious presence of Dr Sashi Panja, Cabinet Minister, Dept of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare; Dr. Manas Bhunia, Minister for Irrigation and Waterways & Small and Micro Industries and Textile Govt. of WB; Dr. Santanu Sen, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha; Dr. Saumen Kumar Mahapatra, Minister for Irrigation and Waterways; Shri Pandey Santosh, IPS, Jt CP (Traffic), Kolkata Police along with Mr. Raj Kumar Agrawal, President – Rotary Club of Calcutta, Dr. Sukumar Mukherjee, Dr. Sandip Chatterjee, Dr. Sukalyan Purkayastha, Dr Sudipto Roy & other dignitaries.

In India, National Doctors Day is celebrated on the 1st of July in the honour of Dr. B C Roy. The theme of National Doctors Day 2022 is Family Doctors on the Front Line which is once again dedicated to all those doctors and healthcare professionals. In this crucial pandemic situation, it’s even more necessary to thank them for working 24X7 for saving our lives. Forgetting their families, they chose to serve the nation. Cheers to their spirit and dedication that they continued to work meticulously without stopping in the hour of crisis, risking their own lives.

Present on the occasion, Dr. Santanu Sen, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, said “This year Indian Medical Association tied a knot with century ancient Rotary Club of Calcutta to commemorate the contribution of Dr B C Roy as a doctor in our society and country and we are here felicitating leading frontline workers for their involvement in fighting against this ongoing COVID pandemic followed by a panel discussion session highlighting the relationship between a patient and his doctor”.

The session also highlighted on Doctor–Patient Relationship (DPR) that has been and remains a keystone of care: the medium in which data are gathered, diagnoses and plans are made, compliance is accomplished, and healing, patient activation, and support are provided. The importance of doctor-patient relationship is that it is essential for doctors to be trusted by their patients so that they can have full disclosure on their medical history and other relevant information crucial for diagnosis and treatment. A study was done by Harvard Medical School also suggests that having a good rapport with patients can also improve a patient’s health. Strategies for doctors to achieve this may include making more eye contact with their patients, paying close attention to the patient’s demands and emotions, and helping them to set their health goals.

“A good relationship fosters better physician-patient communication, which improves diagnosis. It also encourages people to tell their doctors about symptoms they might not otherwise disclose. The treatment of a disease may be entirely impersonal: The care of the patient must be completely personal. The significance of the intimate personal relationship between physician and patient cannot be too strongly emphasized, for in an extraordinarily large number of cases both diagnosis and treatment are directly dependent on it. The secret to the care of the patient…is in caring for the patient. During covid, it has been observed that DPR improved at a faster rate than before. On this Doctors’ Day, our aim is to create awareness and identify measures to strengthen this relationship in the coming years.” Mr. Raj Kumar Agrawal, President – Rotary Club of Calcutta, further added.

An online survey was carried out nationwide via a convenience sampling strategy. Patients who met the inclusion criteria were invited to complete a questionnaire regarding the quality of DPR, including sociodemographic information, the Patient-Doctor Relationship Questionnaire (PDRQ-9), and influencing factors for DPR during the pandemic. A total of 1903 patients were included. Results showed that participants had a higher PDRQ-9 score during the COVID-19 pandemic (4.18 ± 0.51) than that before the COVID-19 pandemic (3.86 ± 0.67). Importance-performance analysis (IPA) revealed that doctor-patient communication, patient satisfaction, consultation time, doctor’s attitude, and medical knowledge were specific aspects that needed to be prioritized to improve the DPR. Multiple linear regression analysis suggested that positive media reports, telemedicine, and national policies had a significantly positive effect on the DPR during the pandemic (P < 0.05). In general, the DPR had been improved during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research found the key points that needed to be prioritized to improve the DPR during the pandemic, which may provide effective suggestions for building a harmonious DPR in the future.

The session concluded on how the doctor-patient relationship can be improved for better outcomes. The point discussed was -a) Show some sympathy to the patient; b) Don’t be in a hurry; c) Be a good friend to the patient; d) Help patients deal with their emotions.

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