Do Patients Care About GP Consultation Length?

Doctor holding a stethoscope with a clock over its surface

In Australia, the length of GP consultation lengths has been linked to greater quality of care, whilst providing improvements in health outcomes. But what about from the patients perspective? Do patients care about the consultation length with their GP?

A recent paper released by The British Journal of General Practice aimed to answer these questions. The paper suggests that patients have identified various other elements to determine the success of their consultation as opposed to focusing just on the consultation length with their GP.

The study found that there was no correlation between the length of a GP consultation and the trust, confidence and overall satisfaction of that GP.

The British researchers studied a total of 440 GP consultations and identified that the average consultation length amounted to 10.22 minutes. The shortest consultation was only 2 minutes, whilst the longest was over 30 minutes. The study found that each additional minute spent with a patient only provided a 0.2 increase in a satisfaction rating between 0 and 100.

The study has found that GP’s are experts at identifying the ideal length of a consultation based on the needs of the patient, what they presented with and what they need from their GP in regards to care.

It has supported the idea that long does not necessarily mean better, and that patients can receive the same level of care without needing a significant consultation time. Of course, patients with far more complex health issues require longer consultation hours.

It is well known and documented that GPs in Australia are working much longer hours and may be at risk of burnout. A recent article on 6 Minutes identified the 8 signs of burnout for doctors and how this can impact the effectiveness of that doctor, their availability and patient safety. These eight signs included:

  1. Irritability and sarcasm
  2. Becoming depersonalised with patients
  3. Muscle tension and headaches
  4. Blaming others for issues or having issues forgiving oneself
  5. Feeling emotionally exhausted
  6. Issues with maintaining boundaries
  7. Cognitive rigidity
  8. Difficulty with identifying ambiguity

GP’s now have a opportunity to establish a balance between patient care and looking after their own needs to prevent burning out. It is in the GP’s hand to determine what their patients need and adequately deliver that care, whilst remaining effective.

This of course, is determined on a case-by-case basis, but these findings suggest that doctors are already experts at providing patient care and knowing what their patients need from them.

Working as a doctor in Australia is challenging, but it is certainly a rewarding and respected career. If you’re interested in working in Australia, please refer to our doctor jobs for your next employment opportunity.