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Financial Disclosure by Physicians Builds Patient Trust

Nearly three-quarters report feeling more loyalty because of disclosure

MONDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who are explicitly informed about how their physicians are compensated feel they have a better grip on money's impact on their health care and trust their doctors more, according to a study in the March 27 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Steven D. Pearson, M.D., of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues surveyed 8,000 patients at group practices in Boston and Los Angeles three months after half the patients got financial disclosure letters from the groups' chief medical officer.

Patients who got disclosures better understood their physician's compensation (odds ratio 2.30 in Boston and 1.37 in Los Angeles). About one-third of those in each city felt confident they could assess its impact on their medical care, compared with 17.8 percent in Boston and 26.4 percent in Los Angeles who did not get letters.

Twenty-one percent of those in Boston and 24.4 percent of those in Los Angeles who remembered getting letters reported a greater trust in their physicians, while nearly three-quarters of those in both cities felt more loyalty to them as a result.

"Patients' trust in their physicians was unharmed, and their loyalty to their physician group was strengthened," the authors write. "For physician groups with similar compensation programs, disclosure to patients should be considered an effective method to enhance the patient-physician relationship."

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