A study published in the BMJ this month by Parsons et al has shown that:

  • Over 99% of patients prefer informal address.
  • Greater than one-third having a preference to being called a name other than their legal first name.
  • 57% of patients were unable to correctly name a single member of their attending medical team

The implications of the last point is that hospital doctors do not properly introducing themselves or are relying on verbal introductions which patients tend not to recall, they say. When questioned why they dislike formal address, patients said it “feels too impersonal” and “that is my father’s name”.

So does this advice apply to Integrative medicine doctors or to Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) practitioners? The answer is probably not, as the there are several limitations of this study as pointed out by the researchers such as.

  • The study was undertaken at a single site in a 450 bed tertiary teaching hospital in Victoria, Australia.
  • There may be local and regional differences in the way that patients and medical teams interact.
  • The hospital has a Caucasian and Anglo-Saxon predominant demographic, which would affect patients’ preferences with regard to mode of address.
  • Patients were not asked about their knowledge of their treating nursing or allied health staff.