BACKGROUND: A positive doctor-patient relationship is a crucial part of high-quality patient care. There is a general perception that it has been changing in recent years however there is a lack of evidence for this. Adapting to the changing doctor-patient relationship has been identified as an important skill doctors of the future must possess. This study explores 1). multiple stakeholder perspectives on how the doctor-patient relationship is changing and 2). in what ways medical graduates are prepared for working in this changing doctor-patient relationship. METHODS: We conducted a national qualitative study involving semi-structured interviews with multiple stakeholders across the UK. Interviews lasting 45-60 minutes were conducted with 67 stakeholders including doctors in the first two years of practice (ECD's), patient representatives, supervisors, Deans, medical educators and other healthcare professionals. The interviews were audio recorded, transcribed, analysed, coded in NVivo and analysed thematically using a Thematic Framework Analysis approach. RESULTS: The main ways the doctor-patient relationship was perceived to be changing related to increased shared decision-making and patients having increasing access to information. Communication, patient-centred care and fostering empowerment, were the skills identified as being crucial for preparedness to work in the changing doctor-patient relationship. Graduates were reported to be typically well prepared for the pre-conditions (communication and delivering patient-centred care) of patient empowerment but that more work is needed to achieve true patient empowerment. CONCLUSION: This study offers a conceptual advance by identifying how the doctor-patient relationship is changing particularly around the 'patient-as-knowledge-source' dimension. On the whole ECD's are well-prepared for working in the changing doctor-patient relationship with the exception of patient empowerment skills. Further research is now needed to provide an in depth understanding of patient empowerment that is shared amongst key stakeholders (particularly the patient perspective) and to underpin the design of educational interventions appropriate to career stage.



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Medical Education



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Peninsula Medical School