Seeing the same doctor doesn’t just give you the comfort of a familiar face – it might save your life.
Denis Pereira Gray of St Leonard’s Medical Practice and colleagues at the University of Exeter, UK analysed the results of 22 studies from nine countries with different health systems.
Eighteen of the studies found that people who saw the same doctor over time had significantly lower death rates.
Because the studies use different ways to measure continuity, it wasn’t possible to get an overall estimate for how big the reduction in mortality is.
In those with a high level of continuity, the death rate was half as high as those with low continuity.
The benefits of continuity were not limited to family doctors or GPs, but applied to specialist physicians, psychiatrists and surgeons too.
The relationship could be because people with poor health need to see more different doctors, but the studies tried to account for this. »