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Med Care. 2012 Apr;50(4):290-3. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e318242313e.

Specialist physicians' sensitivity to patient affect and satisfaction.

Author information

1
Institute of Clinical Medicine, Campus Ahus, Oslo, Olso, Norway. pal.gulbrandsen@medisin.uio.no

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Studies indicate that physicians do not respond adequately to patients' emotional issues. Physician sensitivity to patient affect has not been much explored.

OBJECTIVES:

To describe specialist physicians' sensitivity to patient affect and satisfaction.

RESEARCH DESIGN:

Cross-sectional study of physicians' and patients' postvisit questionnaire statements about patient affective states and satisfaction.

SUBJECTS:

A representative sample of 71 physicians covering nonpsychiatric clinical specialties in a general teaching hospital were observed during 497 encounters with patients (outpatient, inpatient on rounds, emergency room, maximum 8 encounters per physician).

MEASURES:

Standardized correlations between physician and patient statements.

RESULTS:

Physician statements about patient negative affect were moderately correlated with patient self-report of negative affect [r=0.379 (0.301; 0.452)]. Physician statements about patient positive affect and patient satisfaction were weakly correlated with patient self-report of positive affect [r=0.238 (0.153; 0.319)] and satisfaction [r=0.219 (0.134; 0.301)]. Internists [r=0.300 (0.161; 0.428)] were significantly less sensitive to negative affect than surgeons [r=0.500 (0.360; 0.618), P=0.038] and neurologists [r=0.621 (0.432; 0.758), P=0.007]. Physicians previously known by the patient were significantly more sensitive to negative affect than those who were not known [r=0.509 (0.391; 0.611) vs. 0.293 (0.189; 0.390), P=0.006]. We could not find differences in affective sensitivity between male and female physicians.

CONCLUSIONS:

Specialist physicians have moderate ability to identify patient negative affect and poor ability to identify patient positive affect and patient satisfaction.

PMID:
22193417
DOI:
10.1097/MLR.0b013e318242313e
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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