Today I read interesting findings from a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, that examined the perceptions of doctors toward their patients. The study, by Jeffrey Jackson of the Medical College of Wisconsin, classified ‘difficult patients’ according to what surveyed physicians considered as difficult, including patients who were hard to get along with, or those who did not get well as quickly as everyone would have liked.
When physicians were asked what percent of their patients were difficult, physicians overall placed the number at 18%– about one in five. But the interesting part came when the survey responses were broken down according to the respondent’s age and experience. Doctors with less than 10 years experience reported that 25% of their patients were difficult. But doctors with more than 20 years of experience had an altogether different opinion, reporting that only 2% of their patients were ‘difficult.’