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J Pain Symptom Manage. 2005 May;29(5):489-97.

Impact of physician sitting versus standing during inpatient oncology consultations: patients' preference and perception of compassion and duration. A randomized controlled trial.

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  • 1Department of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, 77030, USA.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of physician sitting versus standing on the patient's preference of physician communication style, and perception of compassion and consult duration. Sixty-nine patients were randomized to watch one of two videos in which the physician was standing and then sitting (video A) or sitting and then standing (video B) during an inpatient consultation. Both video sequences lasted 9.5 minutes. Thirty-five patients (51%) blindly preferred the sitting physician, 16 (23%) preferred the standing, and 18 (26%) had no preference. Patients perceived that their preferred physician was more compassionate and spent more time with the patient when compared with the other physician. There was a strong period effect favoring the second sequence within the video. The patients blinded choice of preference (P = 0.003), perception of compassion (P = 0.0016), and other attributes favored the second sequence seen in the video. The significant period effect suggests that patients prefer the second option presented, notwithstanding a stated preference for a sitting posture (55/68, 81%). Physicians should ask patients for their preference regarding physician sitting or standing as a way to enhance communication.

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