Objective: To describe patient-obstetrician communication during the first prenatal visit and its relationship to physician gender and patient satisfaction.
Methods: The first prenatal visit of 87 women with 21 obstetricians (11 male and ten female) was audiotaped and analyzed using the Roter Interaction Analysis System. Patient satisfaction was measured by postvisit questionnaire.
Results: Communication during first prenatal visits was largely biomedical, with little psychosocial or social discussion. Male physicians conducted longer visits than females (26 minutes versus 21.9 minutes, P < .05) and engaged in more facilitative communication (ie, making sure they were understood and providing direction and orientation) and explicit statements of concern and partnership (z > 1.96, P < .05). Female physicians devoted more communication to agreements, disagreements, and laughter than males (z > 1.96, P < .05). Satisfaction with physicians' emotional responsiveness and informational partnership was related to female physician gender and a variety of task-focused and affective communication variables.
Conclusion: Communication and satisfaction between women and obstetricians during initial prenatal visits is related to physician gender and patient satisfaction. Male physicians conducted longer visits but women were more satisfied with female physicians.