WEDNESDAY, June 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- People with neuromuscular disorders may gain more benefit from group doctor visits than individual appointments, Dutch researchers say.
Examples of these types of disorders include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) and muscular dystrophy.
The new study included 272 patients who were due for their annual neurologist appointment. The study participants were randomly selected to join other patients in seeing a doctor or to have a one-on-one meeting with a doctor.
The group visits included five to eight patients with the same disorder who saw a neurologist for 90 minutes to two hours. The individual appointments lasted 20 to 30 minutes. The patients then reported on their quality of life one week, three months and six months after their appointments.
On average, patients who attended the group visits scored three points higher on quality-of-life measurements than those who had received the individual appointments, the researchers reported in the June 18 online issue of the journal Neurology.
However, this difference was not clinically significant, which may be due to the progressive nature of neuromuscular disorders, suggested study author Femke Seesing, of Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
Group visits combine personalized care with support from other patients and an opportunity to learn from their experiences, she explained.
"Group visits may be especially beneficial for patients with neuromuscular disorders, where it can be difficult to address all of the complex problems of the disorder in a traditional appointment, and where the main treatment goals focus on optimizing quality of life and improving self-management in the absence of a cure," Seesing said in a journal news release.
"In this age when the demand for neurologists is rising faster than the supply and health care costs continue to rise, it's important to look for finding solutions that are both effective and efficient," Seesing added.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about neuromuscular disorders.