Page 7 - Kansas Journal of Medicine, Volume 10 Issue 4
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Physician perceptions of his or her relationship with SSO patients   KANSAS JOURNAL of  MEDI CIN E
     and this effect on professional satisfaction are compiled in Table 6.
     Twelve physicians (67%) reported no difficulty establishing trust and         RURAL KS FAMILY PHYSICIAN SATISFACTION
     rapport with their SSO patients, and sixteen (89%) rated their rela-            continued.
     tionship with SSO patients as good to excellent. A better relationship
     (i.e., trust and rapport) with SSO patients correlated with increased   our study was less than hoped, the response rate was certainly within
     professional satisfaction for the physician provider [r(18) = .91, p <   the predicted range for such a survey.
     .001]. Fifteen (83%) respondents were satisfied with the care they   Although the questionnaire contained only five questions (#13-
     were able to provide to their SSO patients. Seventy-eight percent of   17) directly relating to physician relationships with SSO patients, the
     respondents (14 physicians) also reported that their ability to care   questions were deemed sufficient to gauge physician sentiments. A
     for SSO patients either decreased or had no effect on their profes-  longer survey may have resulted in an even lower response rate. The
     sional satisfaction, while four physicians noted an increase in their   vast majority of responding physicians established trust and rapport
     professional satisfaction. Fourteen physicians (78%) also rated their   with SSO patients, rated their relationship with this patient cohort as
     overall professional satisfaction in regards to their physician/patient   good to excellent, and were satisfied with the care delivered to SSO
     relationship as good to excellent. The level of satisfaction with the   patients. Despite its limitations, the data provided insight into rural
     care provided to SSO patients correlated with a higher professional   physician satisfaction with caring for SSO patients, although the
     satisfaction for the provider [r(18) = .47, p<.05].        results may not be extrapolated outside of rural areas or to areas with
                                                                greater resources available for SSO patients.
     Table 6. Physician perceptions regarding their relationship with   Private practices had significantly fewer SSO patients than other
     SSO patients.                                              practices. Consequently, fewer SSO patients in a physician’s practice

      Difficulty Establishing Trust & Rapport                   were correlated with a more negative physician-patient relationship,
          Yes                                4 (22)             which led to a decreased professional satisfaction overall. Under-
          No                                 12 (67)            standably, those physicians who do not interact with this population
          Did not answer                     2 (11)             of patients as often as other physicians are less comfortable with
      Rating of Relationship                                    the infrequent interactions or do not have the processes in place to
          Poor                               0 (0)              address this patient population’s needs. 6
                                                                  If a physician had Hispanic or Latino background or spoke Spanish,
          Fair                               2 (11)             his or her perception of the ability to care for SSO patients increased.
          Good                               10 (56)            Conversely, if a physician did not speak Spanish, his or her percep-
          Excellent                          6 (33)             tion of professional satisfaction caring for SSO patients decreased.
      Physician Satisfied with Care Provided                    Use of a certified interpreter might improve physician-patient com-
          Yes                                15 (83)            munication, but engaging the services of a certified interpreter was
          No                                 3 (17)             underutilized by the respondents in this study. Employing an inter-
      Ability to Care for SSO Patient Effected Professional Satisfaction  preter could be an area of improvement in rural practices to improve
          No effect                          6 (33)             the relationship with Spanish-speaking only patients and, in turn,
          Decreased satisfaction             8 (44)             increase physician satisfaction.
          Increased satisfaction             4 (22)             CONCLUSIONS
      Professional Satisfaction in Regards to Physician/Patient Relationship  One of the most important factors for physician satisfaction is
                                                                                                      1,13
          Poor                               0 (0)              the delivery of high quality care to patients.  Language barriers
          Fair                               4 (22)             can interfere with the quality of care a physician provides his or her
          Good                               8 (44)             patients. Language barriers not only impact physician-patient rela-
          Excellent                          6 (33)             tionships, including the physician’s understanding of the patient’s
                                                                symptoms and the patient’s understanding of the physician’s diag-
     DISCUSSION                                                 noses and treatment recommendations, but can cause decreased
        A major limitation of this study was the small number of physicians   physician satisfaction with the level of care provided and decreased
     completing the survey. Repeated requests for responses and/or iden-  professional satisfaction. Fortunately, the majority of the physician
     tifying a larger number of physicians in the fifteen Kansas counties   respondents in this study were satisfied with the care they delivered to
     studied may have increased the study’s power; however, in a study   SSO patients. However, this study also provided evidence that caring
     examining questionnaire response rates from individuals Baruch and   for SSO patients by physicians with limited encounters and/or no or
     Holtom  noted that incentives or repeated reminders to participate   minimal ability to converse in Spanish may be a significant source of
            12
     in a survey did not significantly improve response rates. The authors   physician dissatisfaction. Recognition of this issue and developing
     also found the average response rate from individuals was 52.7% with   means to assist this group of physicians could improve patient care
     a standard deviation of 20.4%. Although the number of responses in   and physician well-being.

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