Improving Medical Outcomes
The Psychology of Doctor-Patient Visits
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About the author
Jessica Leavitt is an attorney who has worked in city government, community college, and non-profit organizations. She is active on state and city boards and commissions, including the California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians.
Fred Leavitt is professor of psychology at California State University, East Bay. He is the author of The Real Drug Abusers (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), Evaluating Scientific Research (2003), and several other books and journal articles. He lectures at hospitals and other venues and offers continuing education seminars for medical professionals.
The problems faced by medical doctors and automobile mechanics are in some ways quite similar—something isn't working right and must be fixed. They must both figure out the cause of malfunctions and determine the appropriate treatments. Yet, the mechanic has no need to worry about an automobile's psyche; the specific mechanical factors are the only ones that come into play. In health care, however, the factors influencing outcomes are broader, more complicated, and colored by the underlying psychological factors of those involved. These factors have profound effects. Doctors are often influenced by patients' description of symptoms, yet information is often incomplete or inaccurate or colored by the patient's own experiences. The doctor's own demeanor may greatly affect outcomes, as can the doctor's ability to interpret the ever-expanding medical literature. These underlying influences are often not acknowledged, and yet they can have far-reaching consequences. Acknowledging these psychological factors and learning how to overcome them are the first steps in improving communications between doctors and patients and to improving diagnosis and treatment. Here, the authors offer strategies for remedying the situation and moving forward to a better understanding of doctor-patient visits and their outcomes.
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
; October 2011
256 pages; ISBN 9781442203051Read online
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Title: Improving Medical Outcomes
Author: Jessica Leavitt; Fred Leavitt
In the press
Jessica Leavitt (member, California Board of Vocational Nursing & Psychiatric Technicians) and Fred Leavitt (psychology, California State Univ.; Evaluating Scientific Research) outline the psychological aspects of doctor-patient relationships and how they affect medical care. While aimed mostly at health-care providers and medical students, the book is accessible to consumers and can be a source of valuable information. It covers major areas of doctor-patient communication, including interpretation of medical information, decision making and bias, medical diagnosis and reducing diagnostic errors, prescribing drugs, the placebo effect, complementary and alternative medicine, and patient social-connectedness. The Leavitts show some of the pitfalls in communicating effectively with patients, making diagnostic decisions, interpreting medical information, and prescribing medication. Throughout, they alert physicians to these hazards and offer tips to help avoid them. Each chapter also concludes with a short list of tips for the patient. VERDICT Recommended for health-care providers, medical students, and doctors—this may be a source of interest to general readers with upcoming doctor’s appointments.