Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Eye contact builds bedside trust

Date:
October 16, 2013
Source:
Northwestern University
Summary:
Doctors who make a lot of eye contact are viewed as more likable and empathetic by patients, according to a new study.

Doctors who make a lot of eye contact are viewed as more likable and empathetic by patients, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study.

Related Articles


Patients also gave doctors higher empathy scores when their total visit length was longer and when doctors engaged in a few "social touches" such as a handshake or pat on the back. However, more than three social touches in one visit decreased empathy scores. The researchers said it's possible that too many social touches from a doctor may seem forced and not genuine to a patient.

The study, published in the Journal of Participatory Medicine, analyzed videotaped doctors' visits and reinforces the notion that nonverbal social communication is an important part of doctor/patient relationships that should be thoughtfully managed, especially as more technology and "screen time" is introduced into doctors' offices.

"The goal is to one day engineer systems and technologies that encourage the right amount of physician eye contact and other non-verbal social communication," said Enid Montague, first author of the study. "As we collect more data we can build models that tell us exactly how much eye contact is needed to help patients trust and connect with a doctor, and design tools and technology that help doctors stay connected to patients."

Montague is an assistant professor in medicine, general internal medicine and geriatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and an assistant professor in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The researchers collected data from 110 first-time encounters between patients with common cold symptoms and primary care doctors. All of the doctors used paper charts and spent an average of 3 minutes and 38 seconds with each patient. After each visit, patient participants completed questionnaires to measure their perception of their doctor's empathy, connectedness with the doctor and how much they liked their doctor.

The visits were videotaped and researchers analyzed the recordings second-by-second, documenting what each person was doing, paying special attention to non-verbal communication. The researchers purposely chose to study doctors who used paper charts so they could develop a baseline for nonverbal communication activities without the presence of computerized systems.

"Previous studies have found that nonverbal communication is important based on patient feedback, but this is one of the few that have looked at these things more broadly quantitatively," Montague said. "We rigorously looked at what was happening at every point in time, so we validated a lot of the qualitative studies."

They concluded that while social touch and length of visit can play a role in a patient's perception of doctor empathy, the amount of eye contact the doctor made was the most important factor for patients.

"Simple things such as eye contact can have a big impact on our healthcare system as a whole," Montague said. "If patients feel like their doctors aren't being empathetic, then we are more likely to see patients who aren't returning to care, who aren't adhering to medical advice, who aren't seeking care, who aren't staying with the same providers. If they switch providers, that's very costly for the healthcare system."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Enid Montague, Ping-yu Chen, Jie Xu, Betty Chewning & Bruce Barrett. Nonverbal Interpersonal Interactions in Clinical Encounters and Patient Perceptions of Empathy. Journal of Participatory Medicine, August 2013

Cite This Page:

Northwestern University. "Eye contact builds bedside trust." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131016100447.htm>.
Northwestern University. (2013, October 16). Eye contact builds bedside trust. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131016100447.htm
Northwestern University. "Eye contact builds bedside trust." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131016100447.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins