The expression of emotion through nonverbal behavior in medical visits: Mechanisms and outcomes

Debra L. Roter, Richard M. Frankel, Judith A. Hall, David Sluyter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

255 Scopus citations


Relationship-centered care reflects both knowing and feeling: the knowledge that physician and patient bring from their respective domains of expertise, and the physician's and patient's experience, expression, and perception of emotions during the medical encounter. These processes are conveyed and reciprocated in the care process through verbal and nonverbal communication. We suggest that the emotional context of care is especially related to nonverbal communication and that emotion-related communication skills, including sending and receiving nonverbal messages and emotional self-awareness, are critical elements of high-quality care. Although nonverbal behavior has received far less study than other care processes, the current review argues that it holds significance for the therapeutic relationship and influences important outcomes including satisfaction, adherence, and clinical outcomes of care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S28-S34
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006



  • Nonverbal communication
  • Nonverbal sensitivity
  • Physician and patient behavior
  • Relationship-centered care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

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