HEALTHY LIVING
01/17/2014 08:41 am ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

The Most Common Gripes Patients Have About Their Doctors

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What about doctors bugs patients the most? A new survey from the Cleveland Clinic reveals all.

Firstly, nearly all patients -- 85 percent -- said that their doctor does something that bugs them. Nearly half of patients said that it aggravates them the most to wait for a long time at the doctor's office, and 12 percent said that it bothers them most when their doctor tells stories to other people about their medical history or ailments.

Eleven percent said they feel aggravated most when their doctor rushes them, and 6 percent said limited office hours bug them most. Four percent of respondents said a sense of not being remembered by the doctor bugs them most, while the same percentage also said that it bothered them most when they left the appointment without some kind of follow-up plan.

The survey, which included 1,019 adults, also revealed that about half of patients think that it would be possible to improve their relationship with their doctor. One way to do this: Don't rush the appointment. Thirteen percent of patients also mentioned that being able to directly contact their doctor would improve their patient-doctor relationship. However, most patients do say that their last doctor visit was a positive one, with older patients being more likely to report a good experience than millennial patients.

Other findings from the survey that reveal the doctor-patient experience might really be universal:

Overall, the one thing patients want the most from their doctors is empathy. Eighty-two percent of survey respondents said that doctor empathy was important, and many were even willing to overlook common grievances -- like rescheduling shortly before an appointment, waiting to get an appointment or waiting a long time to actually see the doctor once at the appointment -- if the doctor is empathetic.

Age seems to be a factor in whether a patient-doctor relationship is considered "good." Older patients were more likely to say that they had a good relationship with their doctor (63 percent) compared with the younger set (36 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds).

The majority of patients don't blindly take everything the doctor says as fact. Just 36 percent said they trust everything a doctor tells them, and always do what the doctor advises. Meanwhile, 49 percent said that when they talk to their doctor, they ask questions and challenge the doctor's opinion, with college-educated people being more likely to do this than those with a high school diploma or less. The over-65 set is the most likely to fully trust doctors' advice.

Most people don't lie to their doctor. Most older patients ages 65 and older say that they've never lied to their doctor -- 86 percent -- compared with millenials -- 73 percent. When patients do lie, it's mainly because they want to avoid being judged or lectured, or are afraid of the truth.

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