Research Paper Series 2004

(No.17:May 2004)

Approaches to Better to Empower Healthcare Consumers
-Suggestions from the Results of an Attitude Survey-

Naoya Fujihara and Haruhiko Nobayashi

  Recently, the idea of "patient-centered health care" is being increasingly advocated. In this study, healthcare consumers' attitudes were analyzed through investigations of their current involvement in and knowledge of medical care and their behavioral processes. The investigations also extended to the factors that influence their behavioral processes.

  The survey revealed that healthcare consumers hope for the realization of patient-centered health care, wish to be proactively involved in their medical treatment, and already have a degree of medical knowledge. Moreover, it turned out that they are trying to take the initiative in gathering information and communicating with physicians.

  The survey also showed that there was diversity in consumers' attitudes depending on the following attributes: disease, age, and general public vs. patient groups. In addition, their lack of sufficient medical knowledge, heavy reliance on physicians in decision-making, and the unsatisfactory attitudes of some physicians were reported as the major obstacles to smooth communication with physicians.

  To achieve the ideal patient-centered health care, it is suggested suggest that healthcare consumers be further empowered. In other words, healthcare consumers should: (1) be self-reliant; (2) improve their health literacy; and (3) build relationships of trust with physicians based on information sharing and mutual understanding.

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