Observer’s Perceptions of Nonclinical Touch during Physician-Patient Interaction
MetadataShow full item record
Of all the staff with whom patients communicate with, the physician is arguably the most important. When physicians communicate well, patients are more likely to acknowledge health problems, understand treatment options, and comply with medication regimens. Although what a physician communicates is important, how the information is delivered has the potential to alter a patient’s perceptions of the entire medical encounter. The goal of this study is to test the utility of a simple nonverbal behavior – a nonclinical touch – on patient perceptions of immediacy, subsequent patient satisfaction, and patient experience scores. A total of 394 participants were recruited as analogue patients to assess videos of a physician speaking with patients either using nonclinical touch at the end of the encounter or not doing so. No significant differences were found between the touch and no-touch groups. Implications are raised for the utility of touch in provider-patient interactions, as well as questions over whether or not analogue patients fully experience the impact of touch used by physicians, given that they are seeing and not feeling said touch. This study offers a host of methodological insights on how future research into clinical touch may be pursued.