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 The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

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: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water world

20.11.2017 | Life Sciences

Less is more to produce top-notch 2D materials

20.11.2017 | Materials Sciences

Carefully crafted light pulses control neuron activity

20.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>