Introduction The doctor-patient relationship is an ever-changing reflection of society. With current availability of information via the internet, media and social networking sites, the face of medicine is changing, and with this patients’ expectations. Of the research available in relation to what patients want in a doctor, there is little work directly relating to obstetricians.
Objectives We aimed (i) to examine qualities students and doctors think are important to patients, (ii) to compare what patients and healthcare professionals value in doctors and obstetricians, and (iii) to investigate what influences impressions and choice of doctors.
Methods A detailed questionnaire was distributed to over 300 patients, medical students, midwives and doctors in a tertiary-referral teaching maternity hospital.
Results Study participants agreed the qualities most important in doctors and obstetricians were: competent, knowledgeable, professional, experienced, good communicator, compassionate. Time constraints and poor communication were the main cause of dissatisfaction with a previous consultation. Doctors and midwives had negative impressions of doctors based on dress and appearance, whereas patients were more concerned with poor communication and age. ‘Word-of-mouth’ recommendations from other patients, location of working and qualifications were most valued when it came to choice of doctor. Of the 40% who researched their doctors online, most felt this information was positive and correlated with expectations.
Conclusions Patients of all backgrounds wanted their doctors to be competent and knowledgeable, but qualities like experience and communication were valued more highly in obstetricians. Doctors thought personal appearance was important. Internet-based information was less relevant than personal recommendation.
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