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Patient Educ Couns. 2005 Feb;56(2):139-46.

Socio-economic status of the patient and doctor-patient communication: does it make a difference?

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Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, Ghent University, UZ-1K3, De Pintelaan 185, B-9000 Gent, Belgium.


This systematic review, in which 12 original research papers and meta-analyses were included, explored whether patients' socio-economic status influences doctor-patient communication. Results show that patients from lower social classes receive less positive socio-emotional utterances and a more directive and less participatory consulting style, characterised by significantly less information giving, less directions and less socio-emotional and partnership building utterances from their doctor. Doctors' communicative style is influenced by the way patients communicate: patients from higher social classes communicate more actively and show more affective expressiveness, eliciting more information from their doctor. Patients from lower social classes are often disadvantaged because of the doctor's misperception of their desire and need for information and their ability to take part in the care process. A more effective communication could be established by both doctors and patients through doctors' awareness of the contextual communicative differences and empowering patients to express concerns and preferences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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