J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2001 (Jan); 24 (1): 12–16 ~ FULL TEXT
Brussee WJ, Assendelft WJ, Breen AC
OBJECTIVE: Good communication between health care professionals has proved to be important in ensuring high standards of care. Patients have shown an increased use of complementary medicine (eg, chiropractic) in addition to conventional medicine. However, this does not automatically guarantee good cooperation and communication between complementary practitioners and conventional practitioners. The objective of this study was to assess the nature and quality of communication between general practitioners and chiropractors (in The Netherlands) and to look for areas for improvement.
DESIGN AND SETTING: Postal questionnaires were sent to general practitioners requesting personal and practice details and asking about their knowledge of chiropractic, present communications, opinions on chiropractic terminology, and preferences with regard to communications with patients.
SUBJECTS: A total of 252 general practitioners in 84 Dutch cities.
RESULTS: A total of 115 questionnaires (46%) were returned. Almost all of the general practitioners had at least heard of chiropractic. Most information came from patients who were treated by chiropractors (78%). Only 10% of the general practitioners refer their patients to a chiropractor on a regular basis. Referral of patients was found to be significantly related to the general practitioners' perceived knowledge of chiropractic and positive opinions regarding their past communications with chiropractors. More than 80% of the general practitioners said that they were interested in receiving (or continuing to receive) feedback reports, even if they did not personally refer the patient to the chiropractor. Chiropractic feedback reports often seem to contain confusing terminology (40%), which might negatively influence communication (66%). General practitioners preferred a typed (88%), short (69%) feedback report, preferably sent after the last treatment (72%).
CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study show most general practitioners to have a neutral to positive attitude toward communication with chiropractors. The general practitioners' preferences with regard to the technical aspects of a feedback report concur with the results of similar surveys in the field and can be used as guidelines for written communications. Factors that negatively influence communication between general practitioners and chiropractors seem to be confusing terminology, a limited knowledge of chiropractic, and bad experiences in previous communications. Recognition and illumination of these factors is a prerequisite to the development of good communication.