Perceptions of the Doctor-Patient Relationship Among Patients in a Private, Secondary-Level Hospital in Southern India

Pooja Gala, Veena Sriram, Chitra Kotian, Kirthinath Ballala, Rajesh Vedanthan, Emily Perish, Shashikiran Umakanth, David Meltzer

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: An epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in India is fueling a growing demand for primary care and hospitalization services. Difficulties in coordinating inpatient and outpatient care create significant barriers to providing high-quality medical care. In this paper, we describe patient experiences, perceptions, and expectations of doctor-patient relationships in a secondary-level private hospital in Karnataka, India. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional, mixed-method needs assessment with surveys and in-depth interviews at Dr. TMA Pai Hospital (TMAPH), a secondary-level, private sector hospital in Karnataka, India. Inclusion criteria included all adults over 18 years old hospitalized at TMAPH in the past year. Patients were consecutively recruited from August 2019-October 2019 and asked to rate aspects of their relationship with their primary care provider (PCP). Descriptive statistics and multivariable logistic regression were used to analyze predictors of the doctor-patient relationship. Patients were interviewed regarding their perceptions of care coordination and doctor-patient relationships. General Thematic Analysis was utilized to analyze qualitative data and develop themes. Quantitative and qualitative findings were then merged to interpret the various dimensions of doctor-patient relationships. Results: A total of 150 patients (47.3% male) enrolled. Ten patients underwent qualitative interviews. The median patient age was 67 years (IQR 56–76). 112 (74.7%) of patients identified a PCP either at or outside of TMAPH. 89% had diabetes and/or hypertension. Compared to patients without a PCP, having a PCP led to a significantly higher adjusted odds of always spending optimal time with their doctors (aOR 2.7, 95% CI 1.1–6.8, p = 0.04), and always receiving clear instructions on managing their medical conditions (aOR 2.5, 95% CI 1.0–6.1, p = 0.04). The following themes were developed from patient interviews: (1) patients trusted and respected their PCP believing they were receiving high quality care; and (2) despite perceived fragmentation in care, patients spoke favorably of their relationships with their doctors. Conclusions: Among a sample of recently hospitalized patients, those with a PCP reported more positive doctor-patient relationships, though rates of dissatisfaction with doctors were still high. Further research and strategies are required to optimize continuity of care and doctor-patient relationships across the entire continuum of outpatient and inpatient care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number768705
Pages (from-to)768705
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 06-04-2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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