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A metanalysis published in BMJ Open shows that for half of the world’s population, primary care doctor visits last less than five minutes and that the range is from 48 seconds in Bangladesh to 22.5 minutes in Sweden (US PCP visit averages at 20 minutes).
The study looked at 9 studies, covering 67 countries and more than 28.5 million appointments. Eighteen countries, which account for half the world’s population, have appointment times less than 5 minutes, they found. Another 25 countries had appointment times under 10 minutes.
The assumption is that longer appointments result in more health promotion and education of patients.
Future studies may want to look at the added value for each additional minute of consultation. While the differences between a two-minute appointment and a 20-minute appointment may be obvious, but researchers want to know the difference between what is covered in a 15-minute versus a 20-minute appointment.
The study showed that consultation time was associated with national health care spending, the number of PCP and doctor burnout rates, but was not associated with the number of consultations, the number of diagnostic tests or the number of emergency care department visits or patient satisfaction.