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Health Commun. 2009 Jan;24(1):21-32. doi: 10.1080/10410230802606968.

Affective and instrumental communication in primary care interactions: predicting the satisfaction of nursing staff and patients.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of California, Riverside, USA. kh36@txstate.edu


Verbal and nonverbal communication between nursing staff and patients has received scant research attention. This study examined patients' and nursing staff members' global affective and instrumental communication, mutual influence, and relationship to postvisit satisfaction. This study employed ratings of videotaped primary care visits of 81 nursing staff members with 235 patients, and assessed communication in 2 channels: nonverbal visual and speech including vocal tone. Communication channel differences and prediction of patient satisfaction were examined. The visual and vocal communication of nursing staff members and patients robustly predicted each other's satisfaction and reflected their own satisfaction with the dyadic visit. Affect was communicated more clearly through the speech with vocal tone channel, whereas instrumental communication was stronger in visual nonverbal behavior. Patients' and nursing staff members' behaviors of pleasantness and involvement frequently co-occurred.

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