Doctor—Patient Gap

Here at Diabetes Self-Management, we often mention the concept of a “health-care team”: a person and all of his doctors and other health-care providers working together to ensure the best health outcomes. At times this can be, of course, more an ideal than a reality — for reasons that may include disagreement or lack of communication among doctors, or limited access to health-care specialists. A new study highlights another reason why it may be difficult to move ahead seamlessly with a health-care plan: disagreement between people with diabetes and their doctors over which health problems deserve immediate attention and action.


In a survey conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School and the US Department of Veterans Affairs, 1200 people with both diabetes and high blood pressure and their doctors were asked to prioritize the treatment of their various chronic conditions. Of the doctor–patient pairs, 28% did not rank treatment priorities the same way. The sicker a person was, the more likely his priorities were to differ from his doctor’s. As an example, 38% of doctors ranked high blood pressure as the most important condition to treat, while only 18% of the people with diabetes felt the same way.

According to the researchers, patients gave higher priority to treating pain and depression than their doctors did. The researchers speculated that this might represent folly on the part of the doctors, since such immediate symptoms can interfere with self-management of diabetes and other conditions in addition to the misery they cause on their own.

What do you think — does this survey show that doctors aren’t in touch with the true needs of their patients? Or does it show that doctors have different standards for deciding what’s a serious problem? Do you feel that your doctors get enough input from you when deciding on medical treatments? Leave a comment below!

Learn more about the health and medical experts who who provide you with the cutting-edge resources, tools, news, and more on Diabetes Self-Management.
About Our Experts >>

  • Harry…………………….

    I don’t like any of the treatments for high cholesterol.

  • Timothy Miller

    I thank god I have a Dr. that takes time to listen to me. And does not rush me in and out like a lot of them do. He will address any problem I have that I,feel is important to me. Then he will address any changes that he thinks I should know such as test results etc. And before I leave has ask me if there is anything else. That’s a Dr. office I always leave feeling better. Thank you Dr. Giglio D.O.

  • Susan

    No my doctors and I do not agree with my health issues. However my endocrinolgist is more concerned than either my internist and cardiologist. My cardiologist I prefer over my internist and they are brothers.I am seriously considering firing the internist if I can find another.

  • mary little

    my doctors work together and all the records are on the same computer and available to them all i think my staff of docs are the world’s best and they listen and they work together because i am a whole patient not parts of one and go in prepared this is what’s happening and i always take my log book with me no matter who i go see it has changes in it and blood pressures daily and everyone gets to see the same info we are responsible for going to the doctor prepared with our questions and if we go expecting them to read our minds your care won’t be the same as mine i read and i read some more and i don’t know it all but i ask the questions and get the answers to them and i love everyone of my docs they are in my basket for sure