Nov. 19 (UPI) -- People with chronic diseases can improve their health conditions with only 45 minutes of consultation with a medical professional, according to a new study.
Researchers said in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association they observed results in 47 patients with hypertension, COPD or diabetes. Each patient followed up a doctor's appointment with 45-minute visits to second-year medical students -- and paid two more to the students after three weeks and three months.
For the patients, those sessions decreased their level of emotional distress and increased their ability to self-monitor and navigate the healthcare system, the study found.
"Patients reported a greater understanding of their chronic disease and feeling better equipped to manage their health," Alexis Stoner, director of preventive medicine and public health at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, said in a statement. "This is encouraging because these diseases typically require patients to take on a lot of responsibility in their care, often through changes in lifestyle."
The research focused on people in poor, underserved communities with high negative health outcomes and low access to accurate health information.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 60 percent of Americans have a chronic disease and 40 percent have two or more. Chronic diseases also contribute to $3.3 trillion in health costs each year.
In place of the sessions, the patients could get additional health education from the nurses, physician assistants or health lifestyle advisors, the researchers said.
"As physicians are increasingly held to the standards of value-based care, building in time and staff for patient education will prove critical to demonstrating success," Stoner, the study's lead author, said.