Mutual understanding between physician and patient is essential for good quality of care; however, both parties have different views on health complaints and treatment. This study aimed to develop and validate a measure of mutual understanding (MU) in a multicultural setting. The study included 986 patients from 38 general practices. GPs completed a questionnaire and patients were interviewed after the consultation. To assess mutual understanding the answers from GP and patient to questions about different consultation aspects were compared. An expert panel, using nominal group technique, developed criteria for mutual understanding on consultation aspects and secondly, established a ranking to combine all aspects into an overall consultation judgement. Regarding construct validity, patients' ethnicity, age and language proficiency were the most important predictors for MU. Regarding criterion validity, all GP-related criteria (the GPs perception of his ability to explain to the patient, the patient's ability to explain to the GP, and the patient's understanding of consultation aspects), were well-related to MU. The same can be said of patient's consultation satisfaction and feeling that the GP was considerate. We conclude that the Mutual Understanding Scale is regarded a reliable and valid measure to be used in large-scale quantitative studies.

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Patient Education and Counseling
Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (ESHPM)

Harmsen, J.A.M, Bernsen, R.M.D, Meeuwesen, L, Pinto, D, & Bruijnzeels, M.A. (2005). Assessment of mutual understanding of physician patient encounters: Development and validation of a mutual understanding scale (MUS) in a multicultural general practice setting. Patient Education and Counseling, 59(2), 171–181. doi:10.1016/j.pec.2004.11.003