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 A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

nachricht Urbanization to convert 300,000 km2 of prime croplands
27.12.2016 | Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) gGmbH

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: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A big nano boost for solar cells

18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Glass's off-kilter harmonies

18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed

18.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>