• Investigating the relationship between consultation length and patient experience: a cross-sectional study in primary care

      Elmore, Natasha; Burt, Jenni; Abel, Gary; Maratos, Frances A.; Montague, Jane; Campbell, John; Roland, Martin; University of Derby (Royal College of General Practitioners, 2016-11-24)
      Background Longer consultations in primary care have been linked with better quality of care and improved health-related outcomes. However, there is little evidence of any potential association between consultation length and patient experience. Aim To examine the relationship between consultation length and patient-reported communication, trust and confidence in the doctor, and overall satisfaction. Design and setting Analysis of 440 videorecorded consultations and associated patient experience questionnaires from 13 primary care practices in England. Method Patients attending a face-to-face consultation with participating GPs consented to having their consultations videoed and completed a questionnaire. Consultation length was calculated from the videorecording. Linear regression (adjusting for patient and doctor demographics) was used to investigate associations between patient experience (overall communication, trust and confidence, and overall satisfaction) and consultation length. Results There was no evidence that consultation length was associated with any of the three measures of patient experience (P >0.3 for all). Adjusted changes on a 0–100 scale per additional minute of consultation were: communication score 0.02 (95% confidence interval [CI] = −0.20 to 0.25), trust and confidence in the doctor 0.07 (95% CI = −0.27 to 0.41), and satisfaction −0.14 (95% CI = −0.46 to 0.18). Conclusion The authors found no association between patient experience measures of communication and consultation length, and patients may sometimes report good experiences from very short consultations. However, longer consultations may be required to achieve clinical effectiveness and patient safety: aspects also important for achieving high quality of care. Future research should continue to study the benefits of longer consultations, particularly for patients with complex multiple conditions.