Neurology

December 2011

Research

Moving with the times

Familiarity versus formality in Australian general practice

Volume 40, No.12, December 2011 Pages 1004-1007

Romayne Moore BSc, MBBS, DCH, is an academic general practice registrar, School of Medicine, Griffith University, Logan, Queensland

Michael Yelland MBBS, PhD, FRACGP, FAFMM, GradDipMuscMed, is Associate Professor of Primary Health Care, School of Medicine, Griffith University, Logan, Queensland.

Shu-Kay Ng BSc, MScSt, PhD, is Senior Lecturer in Biostatistics, School of Medicine, Griffith University, Logan, Queensland.

Background

Forms of address between patients and general practitioners is an underexplored area which may influence productive dialogue within a consultation. This article aims to describe how Australian patients prefer to be addressed by their GP, how patients prefer to address their GP, and the factors influencing these preferences.

Methods

Twenty consecutive patients of 13 randomly selected GPs (n=260) were surveyed on preferences for use of names in consultations and the factors influencing these preferences.

Results

Ninety percent of patients prefer to be addressed by their first name. Thirty-five percent of patients prefer to call the GP by first name, 27% by title and last name, 21% by title only, and 10% by title and first name. A range of influencing factors was identified.

Discussion

These findings allow GPs to feel confident in addressing their patients informally. They indicate the diversity of patient preferences for addressing their GP and the factors influencing these choices.

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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