Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Should general practitioners call patients by their first names?

British Medical Journal 1990; 301 doi: (Published 06 October 1990) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1990;301:795
  1. B McKinstry
  1. Ashgrove Health Centre, Blackburn, West Lothian.


    OBJECTIVE--To assess the acceptability to patients of the use of patients' first names by doctors and doctors' first names by patients in general practice. DESIGN--An administered questionnaire survey. SETTING--5 General practices in Lothian. PATIENTS--475 Patients consulting 30 general practitioners. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE--Response by patients to questionnaire on attitude to use of first names. RESULTS--Most of the patients either liked (223) or did not mind (175) being called by their first names. Only 77 disliked it, most of whom were aged over 65. Most patients (324) did not, however, want to call the doctor by his or her first name. CONCLUSIONS--General practitioners should consider using patients' first names more often, particularly with younger patients.