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Home visits are usually initiated by someone other than the patient, whom we have called the `intermediary'. It is seldom an objective decision on the part of the intermediary that a home visit is needed and is usually the result of his or her own anxieties. It is therefore important for the doctor consciously to aim at a diagnosis or formulation of the problems of the intermediary, and it may then become possible deliberately to help him or her with his needs and anxieties. If these are not considered, the strains or dissatisfaction of the intermediary which initiated the visit are likely to remain, and to influence both the way the doctor treats the patient and the doctor's sense of competence.