Seeing the same doctor over time, known as continuity of care, is associated with reduced mortality rates. That was the conclusion of an analysis of 22 studies from around the world, published in BMJ Open in August 2018. The studies came from nine countries with very different populations and health care systems and controlled for factors such as age, race, socioeconomic status, chronic health conditions, and insurance coverage.
Likely explanations for the benefits resulting from continuity of care include better doctor-patient communication and adherence to medical guidance, increased use of preventive services, greater patient satisfaction, and doctors’ ability to develop “accumulated knowledge” about individual patients, the researchers suggested. Better continuity of care may also be a marker for more stable lives, which could improve health.
Lack of continuity of care is a frequent complaint about today’s complicated, fragmented U.S. health care system, often resulting from changes in insurance plans, for example.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
Also see Is Your Doctor Burned Out?