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J Hand Surg Am. 2015 Sep;40(9):1860-5.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2015.06.105. Epub 2015 Jul 29.

Physician Empathy as a Driver of Hand Surgery Patient Satisfaction.

Author information

1
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.
2
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. Electronic address: dring@partners.org.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

To examine the relationship between patient-rated physician empathy and patient satisfaction after a single new hand surgery office visit.

METHODS:

Directly after the office visit, 112 consecutive new patients rated their overall satisfaction with the provider and completed the Consultation and Relational Empathy Measure, the Newest Vital Sign health literacy test, a sociodemographic survey, and 3 Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System-based questionnaires: Pain Interference, Upper-Extremity Function, and Depression. We also measured the waiting time in the office to see the physician, the duration of the visit, and the time from booking until appointment. Multivariable logistic and linear regression models were used to identify factors independently associated with patient satisfaction.

RESULTS:

Patient-rated physician empathy correlated strongly with the degree of overall satisfaction with the provider. After controlling for confounding effects, greater empathy was independently associated with patient satisfaction, and it alone accounted for 65% of the variation in satisfaction scores. Older patient age was also associated with satisfaction. There were no differences between satisfied and dissatisfied patients with regard to waiting time in the office, duration of the appointment, time from booking until appointment, and health literacy.

CONCLUSIONS:

Physician empathy was the strongest driver of patient satisfaction in the hand surgery office setting. As patient satisfaction plays a growing role in reimbursement, targeted educational programs to enhance empathic communication skills in hand surgeons merit consideration.

TYPE OF STUDY/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Prognostic II.

KEYWORDS:

Empathy; communication; health literacy; patient satisfaction; reimbursement

PMID:
26231482
DOI:
10.1016/j.jhsa.2015.06.105
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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