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A Doctor Will See You Now: Physician-Patient Relationships and Clinical Decisions

Erin Johnson, M. Marit Rehavi, David C. Chan, Jr, Daniela Carusi

NBER Working Paper No. 22666
Issued in September 2016
NBER Program(s):Health Care

We estimate the effect of physician-patient relationships on clinical decisions in a setting where the treating physician is as good as randomly assigned. OBs are 25% (4 percentage points) more likely to perform a C-section when delivering patients with whom they have a pre-existing clinical relationship (their “own patients”) than when delivering patients with whom they had no prior relationship. OBs’ decisions are consistent with receiving greater disutility from their own patients’ difficult labors. After a string of difficult labors, OBs are more likely to perform C-sections on their own patients, and this can explain the entire own patient effect.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22666

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