Objectives: Style of physician-patient interaction has been shown to have an impact on patient outcomes. Although many different interaction styles have been proposed, few have been empirically tested. This study was conducted to empirically derive physician interaction styles and to explore the association of style with patient reports of specific attributes of primary care, satisfaction with care received, and duration of the visit.
Study design: A cross-sectional observational study.
Population: We observed 2881 patients visiting 138 family physicians for outpatient care in 84 community family practice offices in northeast Ohio.
Outcomes measured: Components of Primary Care Instrument (CPCI), patient satisfaction, and duration of the visit.
Results: A cluster analysis of variables derived from qualitative field notes identified 4 physician interaction styles: person focused, biopsychosocial, biomedical, and high physician control. Physicians with the person-focused style rated highest on 4 of 5 measures of the quality of the physician-patient relationship and patient satisfaction. In contrast, physicians with the high-control style were lowest or next to lowest on the outcomes. Physicians with a person-focused style granted the longest visits, while high-control physicians held the shortest visits-a difference of 2 minutes per visit on average. The associations were not explained away by patient and physician age and gender.
Conclusions: In community-based practices, we found that the person-focused interaction style appears to be the most congruent with patient reported quality of primary care. Further investigation is needed to identify ways to support and encourage person-focused approaches and the time needed to provide such care.