Failure of Physicians to Recognize Functional Disability in Ambulatory Patients

Published in: Annals of Internal Medicine, v. 114, no. 6, Mar. 15, 1991, p. 451-454

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 1991

by David Calkins, Lisa V. Rubenstein, Paul Cleary, Allyson Ross Davies, Alan M. Jette, Arlene Fink, Jacqueline Kosecoff, Roy Young, Robert H. Brook, Thomas L. Delbanco

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The objective of this study was to assess the ability of internists to identify functional disabilities reported by their patients by comparing the responses by physicians and a random sample of their patients to a 12-item questionnaire about physical and social function. It concludes that physicians often underestimate or fail to recognize functional disabilities that are reported by their patients. They overstate functional impairment to a lesser degree. Because these discrepancies may adversely affect patient care and well-being, medical educators and clinicians should pay more attention to the assessment of patient function.

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