Objective. To compare the stressors accompanying chronic disease as perceived by patients and their GPs and to explore how incongruence in patients' and GPs' ideas influences patients' health status and use of health care.
Method. A total of 580 patients with a diagnosis of diabetes or osteoarthritis and their GPs were interviewed by questionnaire about the stressors accompanying a patient's illness. In addition, information was obtained from each patient on health status and use of health care.
Results. The results show that patient and GP diverge in the way they think about chronic illness. Incongruence was larger in the case of osteoarthritis. In both diabetes and osteoarthritis, incongruence between patient and GP was associated with a worse health status of the patient and an increase in health-care use, although the pattern of correlation differed by type of disease.
Conclusions. A chronic disease requires an ongoing relationship between patient and GP over years. Therefore, it is especially important that providers recognize the problems with which chronic disease patients are faced. Too often, providers are one-sided focused on the medical aspects of disease, neglecting the personal impact that a chronic disease has on the patient's life. In this way, successful treatment is complicated.