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The benefits of shared doctor appointments

Written by Diane Archer

Many years ago, I heard a primary care doctor explain his solution to the minimal time he had to spend with each of his patients: He offered to see those with similar conditions collectively.  Instead of taking seven minutes with each diabetes patient, he spent 70 minutes with ten of them.  The sessions worked so well that when he needed to cancel one, the patients asked to meet without him.

The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that shared medical appointments are becoming quite common.  In 2010, one in eight family doctors give their patients the option of having a shared appointment with other patients, twice as many as in 2005.  These appointments enable doctors to see more patients in a day and allow patients to learn from other patients with similar conditions.

We’re all in this together: Research reveals the powerful and positive health effects spouses and friends can have on one another.  A Just Care post reports on research showing that if you exercise, you actually may be helping your spouse by encouraging your partner to exercise.  Similarly, if you quit smoking, it increases the likelihood that your spouse will quit by as much as 67 percent and that your friend will quit by 36 percent.

Social supports can make a big difference.  Bringing a health buddy with you to the doctor or hospital can be critical to ensuring you hear and understand the doctors’ advice as well as get your questions answered.  Research on group medical visits similarly show the value to diabetes patients and patients with heart failure for retaining information they need to know. And married people have been shown to have lower risk of heart disease.  

And, here’s advice from Just Care on how to talk to someone you love about changing an unhealthy behavior.



  • I can see benefits from joint appointments and groups for a variety of conditions including BP, heart failure, COPD, diabetes obesity with proper choice of participants.

  • <>

    You guys need either a proofreader or a better writer. This sentence is obviously wrong: you probably mean to say that quitting smoking INCREASES the likelihood that a partner will also quit smoking, quite a different thing that the sentence in the article says.

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