Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

You don’t say: Patient-doctor nonverbal communication says a lot

31.01.2006


A shoulder shrug. Lack of eye contact. A hand gesture. What patients don’t say can be just as important as what they do, according to a study of nonverbal behavior published in a January issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.



According to the study by Richard Frankel, Ph.D., professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine and a research scientist at the Regenstrief Institute and the Center for Implementing Evidence Based Practice at the Indianapolis VA Medical Center, and colleagues from Johns Hopkins and Northeastern universities and the Fetzer Institute, nonverbal behavior can be an important diagnostic tool increasing the physician’s comprehension of words spoken or thoughts left unsaid.

On the other hand, the nonverbal behavior of the physician can influence the patient’s satisfaction with his clinic visit and affect his compliance with the doctor’s instructions.


The study on this under-recognized communication tool, entitled "The Expression of Emotion Through Nonverbal Behavior in Medical Visits," was presented at the Ninth Biannual Regenstrief Conference and appears in the supplement to the January 2006 issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

"Nonverbal behavior conveys the meaning of words," says Dr. Frankel, a medical sociologist. "The way someone gestures tells you the speaker’s stance; words alone don’t convey the full picture. Nonverbal behavior can be a duplication of the words or it can contradict what an individual is saying.

"To put it more eloquently, if the words are the musical notes on a Tchaikovsky score, then nonverbal behavior is the interpretation of those notes. A computer always plays the music in the same way without any nonverbal behavior, but Jascha Heifetz would play that score differently than Itzhak Perlman, each violinist conveying a different interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s original intent," he said.

Nonverbal communication is a clue to the emotions underlying feelings. Does the patient look at the physician when describing symptoms or does he look down at his feet? Does another patient wring her hands and refuse to meet the doctor’s gaze? Either or both patients may be exhibiting signs of humiliation or anxiety.

Does the physician repeatedly glance at her watch or answer his cell phone? Both actions send nonverbal messages to patients, probably messages the physician did not intend to transmit. Those scenarios are in contrast to yet another doctor who makes eye contact and tilts his head while the patient explains complaints of concern; that physician appears empathetic, said Dr. Frankel.

"From studies outside of medicine – in the business world, for example - we know we can improve nonverbal sensitivity – altering nonverbal cues from ourselves and others," he said. "Our own studies have shown that patients who are satisfied with their physicians perceive their visits were two minutes longer than they actually were and these patients are better at following the physician’s instructions. We also found that patients who felt their physician was not empathetic, perceived their visit to be two minutes shortly than it actually was."

This study and the Regenstrief Conference where it was presented developed from the Regenstrief Institute’s focus on relationship-centered care. "The mutual influence of patients on physicians and physicians on patients is part of a relationship rather than individual actions or behaviors," said Dr. Frankel.

Cindy Fox Aisen | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.iupui.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Do microplastics harbour additional risks by colonization with harmful bacteria?
05.04.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tiny microenvironments in the ocean hold clues to global nitrogen cycle

23.04.2018 | Earth Sciences

Joining metals without welding

23.04.2018 | Trade Fair News

Researchers illuminate the path to a new era of microelectronics

23.04.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>