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October 1982

The Physician-Patient Accommodation: A Central Event in Clinical Medicine

Author Affiliations

From the Section of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago-Pritzker School of Medicine.

Arch Intern Med. 1982;142(10):1899-1902. doi:10.1001/archinte.1982.00340230145024

Physicians and medical analysts have developed many theories of health and disease, and such descriptions are often used to prescribe the proper range and scope of clinical medicine. A traditional, narrow view of clinical medicine suggests that disease is an objective biologic state and that the goals of medicine should be to treat disease1 or alternatively to restore or maintain health.2 By contrast, a more expansive model of medicine has been proposed in which physicians would be expected to respond effectively to any type of complaint—biologic, psychologic, social, economic—with which a person approached the physician.3,4 These theoretical models are important because they could influence the medical profession's own sense of the range and extent of its medical obligations. Furthermore, if health planners and legislators could agree on a particular theoretical model (whether or not the profession concurred entirely), practical limits could be established (primarily through financing mechanisms)