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

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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