Patients views of the good doctor
Angela Coulter explains why doctors have to earn patients trust.
Most doctors are good doctors in the eyes of most patients. Despite the medias fixation with medical errors and damaged patients, doctors come high in the popularity stakes in almost any poll, compared with other professions or trades.1 Furthermore, familiarity tends to breed contentment, not contempt. Patients who have recent experience of medical care tend to give higher, less critical ratings than patients whose experience is less current.2 The medical profession does, however, attract criticism from patients—sometimes deservedly so.
Since the 1970s, patients groups and womens health groups in particular have drawn attention to the deficiencies of the traditional medical model and its tendency to demean and disempower patients.3 The reaction of the early antipaternalists was to emphasise self education and self help as a way of redressing the power imbalance between doctors and patients and avoiding dependence on orthodox medicine. It is often forgotten that most health care is