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Physicians' Communication Style and Patient Satisfaction

Mary Klein Buller and David B. Buller
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
Vol. 28, No. 4 (Dec., 1987), pp. 375-388
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2136791
Page Count: 14
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Physicians' Communication Style and Patient Satisfaction
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Abstract

Research has linked the communication styles of physicians to patients' satisfaction with health care. Recently Ben-Sira (1976, 1980) offered a social interaction model to explain this relationship; this model, however, focused on a single, narrow style of communicating and overlooked the broader spectrum of styles. This survey assessed two general communication styles: affiliation and control. It also examined eight social characteristics of medical interviews as possible mediators of the impact of the physician's communication style on the patient's satisfaction. Patients' evaluations of the physician's communication were associated strongly with patients' evaluations of medical care, suggesting that competence in communication may be a facet of medical competence. Affiliative styles were related positively to patients' satisfaction, whereas dominant/active styles had a negative relationship with satisfaction. Severity of the illness, physician's age, physician's specialty, and the number of prior visits affected the importance of the physician's communication in the patient's evaluations of care.

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