Physician assessment of patient motivation: influence on disposition for follow-up care
This study of 3,318 outpatient visits evaluated the influence of the physician-assessed level of patient motivation on the level of physician involvement in follow-up care. Data collected included patient demographics, health risk factors, physician-assessed level of patient motivation, and the disposition for follow-up care (return office visit or self-care). Physicians more frequently scheduled patients for a return office visit, regardless of assessed level of patient motivation, when they presented with a traditional biomedical problem. Patients with health promotion-disease prevention problems were more frequently relegated to self-care; patients physicians judged to be poorly motivated were four times as likely to be relegated to self-care. We discuss the implications of physician overuse of self-care strategies on the health status of poorly motivated patients. Factors influencing such physician behavior may include prior unrewarding experiences with poorly motivated patients, perceived lack of skill in affecting behavior change, time constraints, lack of reimbursement for preventive care services, and the actual process of physician education and professional socialization.