There is evidence that a good-quality therapeutic relationship improves both patient satisfaction and professional fulfilment, saves time, and increases compliance with prescribed medication. Yet the subtle and intangible elements that underpin a strong therapeutic relationship are difficult to define and to measure.
Related document: Measuring quality in the therapeutic relationship
What did we explore?
To inform its work, the Inquiry commissioned a discussion paper on the importance of the therapeutic relationship to the overall quality of general practice care. Measuring quality in the therapeutic relationship assesses what a good-quality therapeutic relationship looks like, how it can be measured, and what GPs can do to stimulate and maintain it.
The paper's authors are Trisha Greenhalgh, Professor of Primary Health Care, Queen Mary, University of London, and Iona Heath, GP and President of the Royal College of General Practitioners.
What have we learnt about the therapeutic relationship?
Aspects of general practice care that underpin a good-quality therapeutic relationship were discussed as part of Inquiry events in February 2010 with participants including GPs, practice nurses, NHS executives, health academics and patient representatives.
Key issues raised for debate include:
- Whether a strong therapeutic relationship requires continuity of access to a particular GP.
- Whether 'modern' general practice – including larger practices, an increased reliance on information technologies and greater specialisation of the GP role – is undermining the therapeutic relationship.
- Whether or not the doctor/patient relationship at an individual level lends itself to quantitative measurement.
What's your view?
During the inquiry, we asked for your opinions on this care dimension. You can read the comments submitted below.