Physician-patient familiarity and patient recall of medication changes

K. Rost, D. Roter, K. Bertakis, T. Quill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Although patients regularly see the same physician for medical care, little is known about the effects of physician-patient familiarity on important visit outcomes. In a study of visits made to 79 physicians in 11 primary care settings, investigators sought to determine: 1) whether patient recall of prescription medication changes improved as physician-patient familiarity increased, and 2) whether characteristics which predicted recall for newer patients also predicted recall for intermediate and established patients. Sixty-six percent of patients recalled all medication changes recommended during the visit. While recall did not improve as physician-patient familiarity increased, predictors of recall did differ. Generally, the more drug information the physician gave during the concluding segment of the visit, the fewer drug changes the patient remembered. However, this relationship reversed as physician-patient familiarity increased. Elderly patients demonstrated diminished recall regardless of the number of previous visits. The findings suggest that the lengthy provision of drug information actually succeeds in heightening medication recall only when the physician and patient have a well-established relationship. In earlier stages, asking patients to restate recommendations may be a more effective strategy to enhance patient recall.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)453-457
Number of pages5
JournalFamily medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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