The research team classified patients into six mutually exclusive doctor-patient relationship trajectories over one year (from 2015 to 2016) and then looked for associations between trajectories and change in patient functional health after one year.
The authors utilized secondary data extracted from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), which provides a nationally representative and “rich array of process and outcome data for health services research,” as they describe it. The survey asks questions such as “How often did doctors or other health providers listen carefully to you?” and “How often did doctors or other health providers explain things in a way that were easy to understand?”
Functional health outcomes were measured by the Short Form Survey (SF-12) quality of life questionnaire, a standard measure of how well a patient is faring in areas such as general health, physical functioning, and body pain.
Regardless of patients’ baseline relationship with their physician,