Patient Satisfaction

A close relationship exists between rapport and patient satisfaction, and this chapter deals with the many facets of that relationship. It is important that the physician make an effort to understand what patients are "going through" (not only their pain and discomfort, but also the effect these have on their lives) and communicate this understanding to them.

Most studies indicate that patient satisfaction depends on information and the degree to which the patient understands the illness. Joos and associates (1993) found that patients whose desires for information and attention to emotional and family problems went unmet were significantly less satisfied with their physicians than those whose desires were met. Even patients with chronic diseases who had lived with the problem for years had questions they wanted answered. Their satisfaction was related more strongly to the desire for information and affective support than to whether the physician conducted examinations and tests. The greater the patients' satisfaction, the more likely they are to comply with treatment recommendations.

Although patient satisfaction is strongly associated with the length of the visit, it can be further enhanced by spending some time talking about nonmedical topics. Even brief chatting about the weather or something nonmedical can give the impression that more time was taken with the patient, thereby reducing the feeling of being rushed through the visit (Gross et al., 1998).

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