Provincial Level Survey Provides Evidence for Remarkably Short Outpatient Visit Length in Iran

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Iranian Center of Excellence in Health Management, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran

2 Department of Statistics and Epidemiology, School of Health Sciences, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran


Background and Objectives: Visit length is a crucial aspect of patient-physician relationship that its inadequacy can negatively influence the treatment efficiency. Studies on visit length and the factors influencing it are limited in developing countries. Thus, the objective of this study was to survey this variable at provincial level, and provide data on factors affecting it.   Methods: A sample of 428 patients who referred to the outpatient clinics of the general hospitals of Qazvin Province (Northern Iran) was randomly selected and surveyed. Data was collected by a researcher-made checklist and summarized using descriptive statistical methods. Kruskal-Wallis and Mann-Withney tests were used to examine the significance of the differences. The relationship between variables was explored by multivariate regression analysis.   Findings: The average visit time was found to be 4.67 min, which is significantly lower than the minimum average of 15 min approved by the Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Educations (MOHME). Pediatric physicians took significantly longer time to visit the patients, followed by general surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, internal physicians. The visit time of the male patients (5.09 min) was significantly longer than that of females (4.5 min). Multivariate linear regression identified negative relationship between visit length and patient visit frequency, experience of physician, and academic membership.   Conclusions: The study shows the overwhelming shorter length of patient visit in a number of Iranian hospitals. The large difference in the current visit length and the domestically approved standard calls for urgent conduction of large-scale studies to gain insight into the nation-wide magnitude of the problem. Identification of factors contributing to short visit length in this study set a starting point to explore the issue on a broader scale and aid policy-maker to devise solutions.