Informing Me, Involving Me, Professional, Empathic- Patient Preferences for How Their Doctor Communicates

Jones, L. (Griffith University), Sheeran, N. (Griffith University), Watson, B. (Hong Kong Polytechnic University), Gan, G. (Griffith University)

Effective communication between doctors and patients is important for patient satisfaction and patient outcomes.  We need to understand from the perspective of patients what they regard as effective communication.  Using communication accommodation theory (CAT), we examined patient preferences for 3 different CAT strategies (emotional expression, discourse management and interpersonal control). 431 participants completed an online survey, where they were randomly assigned to either a vignette where the participant had a stigmatised or a non-stigmatised illness.  Each participant rated, both quantitatively and qualitatively, 3 vignettes of a hypothetical interaction they had with the doctor, which varied the communication strategy the doctor used.  No single strategy was preferred, with qualitative responses revealing why participants rated different strategies more favourably.  The findings demonstrate the communicative challenge for doctors of meeting different patient expectations.

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Applied Social Psychology