Study: Patients prefer NPs over physicians

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Patients indicated they are more satisfied with nurse practitioners' care than with doctors', according to a small survey conducted researchers at the University of Michigan. NPs outscored physicians on more than three-quarters of the satisfaction questions, the findings, released Friday, show.

Researchers used the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) questionnaire. Of the 18 core questions, NPs had better scores than physicians on 15, according to The Clinical Advisor.

In general, the findings indicated that NPs spend more time with patients, listen more closely, provide more feedback, show more respect for patients' opinions, and the like. Note: Researchers point out that physicians scored well on the survey--an average global score of 7.2 out of 10. In comparison, however, NPs earned an global average of 9.8.

NPs in Michigan may use the data to push forward several bills in the state legislature that would allow them to work independently from physicians, according to Medscape Medical News.

"This adds to the evidence that NPs are able to work independently," researcher Susan Lyons, also a nurse at the university, told The Clinical Advisor. "Patient satisfaction comes from respect and listening, fewer hospitalizations and fewer prescriptions. This is just more proof NPs can operate effectively independently without supervision by physicians."

That's a bit of a stretch, given that the study only covered 200 patients, Glen Stream, president-elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians tells Medscape Medical News. "It's a real leap to take these results and say they support the independent practice of NPs," he says.

To learn more:
- read the Medscape Medical News story
- check out The Clinical Advisor's take

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