The impact of clinical encounter events on patient and physician satisfaction

Morris Weinberger, James Y. Greene, Joseph J. Mamlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

54 Scopus citations


This study explored levels of patient and physician satisfaction as a function of events which occur during the clinical encounter. Data which are directly observable (verbal and nonverbal) and obtainable through interviews were considered. Eighty-eight encounters were observed over a one-week period at an outpatient clinic of a university-affiliated hospital. Participants were interviewed subsequent to each interaction. Multiple discriminant analysis showed encounters viewed by patients as relatively unsatisfactory to be characterized by greater distance between parties during information gathering, increased amounts of feedback, highly active physicians, and physicians who were on call. Satisfied patients had encounters marked by increased physician use of (1) nonverbal encouragement, (2) questions about family and social situations, and (3) expressions of continuity from previous visits. Physicians were less satisfied in encounters in which they were active, felt pressed to other medical commitments, and were on call. The most positive physician assessments occurred when patients were seen as compliant and where humor and nonverbal encouragement were used during the interaction. These data suggest variables which are generally amenable to change if physicians are made aware of their potential impact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-244
Number of pages6
JournalSocial Science and Medicine. Part E Medical Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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