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What Makes for the Ideal Doctor?

Steven Covey has made a fortune from his bestselling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. A new study of patients treated in Arizona and Minnesota, incidentally, shows that there are seven habits that make for a highly effective doctor.

In the study, researchers conducted interviews with 192 patients seen in 14 different medical specialties of the Mayo Clinic system.

Patients were asked to describe their best - and worst - experiences with a doctor at the clinic, and to give specifics of their encounters. The researchers then checked transcripts of the interviews to identify traits that patients favored or disliked.

According to the patients, the ideal doctor would be confident, empathetic, humane, personal, forthright, respectful, and thorough. Of those traits, "thorough" was named most often by patients. Conversely, the patients listed seven traits they associated with bad doctors - timid, uncaring, misleading, cold, callous, disrespectful and hurried.

While the quality of a patient's relationship with their doctor is often overlooked, it is extremely important. Not only does it affect a patient's comfort level with their doctor, it can also have an effect on how the patient responds to the doctor's treatments or recommendations. For more information, visit


Bendapudi NM, Berry LL, Frey KA, et al. Patients' perspective on ideal physician behaviors. Mayo Clinic Proceedings March 2006;81(3):338-344.

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