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J Med Educ. 1982 Feb;57(2):105-12.

Physician behaviors that correlate with patient satisfaction.


The behavior of 15 internal medicine residents, each with 10 patients, was observed through a one-way mirror. Ratings by the patients of satisfaction with their physicians were also obtained. Patient satisfaction correlated strongly with ratings for physician courtesy and information-giving, Nonverbal behaviors such as eye contact, bodily positioning, and physical contact did not correlate with patient satisfaction. The correlations between physician behavior and patient satisfaction did not hold for the four women physicians studied.


The behavior of 15 internal medicine residents at the University of New Mexico Hospital, each with 10 patients, was observed through a 1-way mirror and the 150 patients rated their satisfaction with their physician. The mean ratings of patient satisfaction were between 6 and 7 on a 7-point scale. Satisfaction ratings did not vary significantly between male or female patients or between Hispanics and Anglos, although patients under 40 years of age tended to provide lower ratings than those over this age. Patient satisfaction correlated highly with physician courtesy (formal greeting and formal closure of the interview) and with information giving. Listening behavior also correlated with patient satisfaction. Physician empathy correlated only weakly with patient satisfaction, while physical attention (eye contact and body positioning) did not correlate at all with this factor. Additional factors that were not significant determinants of patient satisfaction in this study included the physical appearance of the physician, the total time of physician-patient interaction, and the amount of physical contact between patient and physician. There were no significant differences between male and female physicians in the mean ratings of caring behaviors or satisfaction. The satisfaction scores of male patients with female physicians were the same as patients of either sex with male physicians; however, female patients expressed greater satisfaction with their female physicians than did male patients with female physicians or female patients with male physicians. This study confirms the findings of earlier investigators that patient satisfaction is beneficially influenced by friendliness and information provision on the part of the physician.

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