Do patients respect the line? Transgression of boundaries reported by Swiss general practitioners

Hänsel, A. and Nübling, M. and Langewitz, W. A.. (2008) Do patients respect the line? Transgression of boundaries reported by Swiss general practitioners. Patient education and counseling, Vol. 72, iss. 3. pp. 424-428.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A6003512

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OBJECTIVE: Transgression of boundaries in the relationship between physician and patient is commonly studied with patient as victim and physician as transgressor. A recent survey in the U.S. reported that almost 90% of physicians face transgression by patients over one year. Incidents happened mainly through verbal abuse, disregarding privacy, and overly affectionate behavior. Since this incidence seems to be alarmingly high, we were interested to analyze how often general practitioners in Switzerland experience transgression by patients. METHODS: 24% of the members of the Swiss Society of Internal Medicine (SGIM) and of the Swiss Society of General Medicine (SGAM) (n=675/2781) responded to an internet-based survey which asked for experiences of transgression by patients and for physicians' responses to transgression in the last 12 months. RESULTS: 81% of responding physicians experienced transgression over the period of one year. Analyzing the frequency of incidents per physician per year, the most common forms of transgression were 'use of physician's first name' (7.7/y), 'asking personal questions' (1.8/y), 'being verbally abusive' (1.5/y), and 'being overly affectionate' (1.4/y). Calculated incidence of transgression was 3 per 1000 patient contacts. 39% of physicians decided to ignore the incident, 37% discussed the event openly. Transgression led to dismissal of patients in 13% of events. CONCLUSION: Transgression even in mild and modest form is a rare phenomenon in Swiss practices. PRACTICE IMPLICATION: The Swiss data do not suggest that there is a specific risk for Swiss practitioners to be exposed to major transgression for which they should specifically be prepared for example in communication skills trainings.
Faculties and Departments:03 Faculty of Medicine > Bereich Medizinische Fächer (Klinik) > Psychosomatik > Psychosomatik (Langewitz)
03 Faculty of Medicine > Departement Klinische Forschung > Bereich Medizinische Fächer (Klinik) > Psychosomatik > Psychosomatik (Langewitz)
UniBasel Contributors:Langewitz, Wolf Axel
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Elsevier Science
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:25 Apr 2014 08:01
Deposited On:25 Apr 2014 08:01

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