Health Team

Medical issues occur in personal context

Posted September 14, 2010 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated September 14, 2010 6:47 p.m. EDT

For Dr. Olabunmi Augboola, making a correct diagnosis sometimes involves more than just medical considerations.

“There's many factors of a patient's life that affect their health care,” Augboola said.

Augboola recently participated in a study at the University of Illinois at Chicago using actors as patients. The patients were assigned a medical problem with other non-medical concerns.

The lesson learned was that every medical issue occurs in a personal context.

“That may mean that they have to be treated differently than other patients with the same disease,” said researcher Alan Schwartz.

Researchers studied more than 100 fourth-year medical students, including some who were trained in individualized care.

The study found that only 25 percent of the students who did not receive the extra training correctly managed the patient/actor’s care.

“When they'd received training, two-thirds of them were able to manage those patients,” Schwartz said.

The study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“We need to definitely look at our patients as individuals that have lives outside of what we see in our practice,” Augboola said.