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Group physician visits might benefit people with muscle disorders

August 15, 2014

A new study suggests people with muscle diseases such as muscular dystrophies might benefit more from group physician visits than individual appointments.

The study was published June 18 on the website of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“In this age when the demand for neurologists is rising faster than the supply and healthcare costs continue to rise, it’s important to look for finding solutions that are both effective and efficient,” study author Femke M. Seesing, MSc, of Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, Netherlands, said in a news release.

Group visits have shown benefits for people with other chronic conditions, but they have not been studied for people with neuromuscular disorders.

For the study, 272 people with chronic neuromuscular disorders were assigned randomly to either a group medical appointment or an individual appointment for their annual visit. Spouses or partners were included.

For the group visits, five to eight people with the same disorder saw a neurologist for an hour and a half to two hours. Individual appointments lasted 20 to 30 minutes. Participants then were given questionnaires that measured their quality of life one week, three months and six months after the appointment.

The study found those in the group visits scored an average of three points higher on a quality-of-life test than those in individual doctor appointments. Seesing noted the benefit was modest.

“While the improvement was similar to that seen in previous studies of group visits, it did not reach the five-point difference necessary to be clinically important,” she said in the release. “This may be due to the progressive nature of neuromuscular disorders.”

Seesing said the group visits combine individualized care with peer support and the chance to learn from other people’s experiences.

“Group visits may be especially beneficial for patients with neuromuscular disorders, where it can be difficult to address all of the complex problems of the disorder in a traditional appointment, and where the main treatment goals focus on optimizing quality of life and improving self-management in the absence of a cure,” she said in the release.

The study was supported by ZonMw, the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development.

(Source: todayinpt.com)


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