Study: Primary care appointments last 5 minutes or less in half the world

Primary care appointments last five minutes or less in 18 countries that represent half the world's population, according to a study in BMJ Open.

The study is based on approximately 28 million consultations in 67 countries, the largest review of primary care consultation length to date.

Average consultation length differed across the world, ranging from 48 seconds in Bangladesh to 22.5 minutes in Sweden. The U.S. averaged around 20 minutes.

"In countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and China, there is no appointment system and primary care physicians may undertake over 90 consultations a day," the authors wrote.

Analyses included in this study's review found short consultation length drove polypharmacy, overuse of antibiotics and poor patient communication.

"Little can be achieved in less than five minutes unless the focus is largely on the detection and management of gross disease," the authors continued. "An average of five minutes may be the limit below which consultations amount to little more than triage and the issue of prescriptions."

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