Patient's response to the researchBMJ 2003; 326 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.326.7402.1313 (Published 12 June 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:1313
I'm a mental health service user with a background in scientific research and the misfortune to have a diagnosis of schizophrenia. I read this piece of research with interest, as personal care from general practitioners is very important to mental health service users who are trying to survive in the community. This is especially true when senior house officers and registrars in the psychiatric system leave at the end of their six month rotation and there is no long term continuity of care for a lot of people. The GP is part of the psychiatric care programme approach, whether he or she likes it or not.
As a former scientist I'm used to reading the BMJ and enjoy having data and references present in a paper so I can make up my own mind on the validity of the conclusions. However, given that this issue is aimed at patients, I found this study easy to read and understand. Although there was a small amount of jargon (focus groups, primary care trusts, practice level care), it was written in a style that I think would be readable by most people with a reasonable command of English. I particularly liked the direct quotes from interviewees because they underlined what the authors were saying in the text, but in accessible language. I wonder what provision was made in the questionnaires and focus groups for people with limited English, especially since the study was carried out in an area with a large ethnic population. Do people from other cultures want the same from a GP?
On the whole I agree with the results about the GPs and nurses in this study. I have a chronic illness that has quite a high emotional content, and I would much rather see the same person all the time for this. For acute and painful things I would also be pragmatic and see the first person with whom I could get an appointment. I was, however, a little perplexed by the importance given to receptionists by patients and the medical staff, as I have always seen them as people whose job is to restrict my access to the GP!
The main finding—that patients want to be seen as whole human beings with individual needs—seems so obvious that the only thing that surprises me is that managers and policy makers would think of moving away from this. Perhaps it is a good thing this study has been done, and I hope the people who make the decisions about such things have a chance to read it.
Competing interests None declared.