Impact of physician sitting versus standing during inpatient oncology consultations: patients' preference and perception of compassion and duration. A randomized controlled trial

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2005 May;29(5):489-97. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2004.08.011.


The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of physician sitting versus standing on the patient's preference of physician communication style, and perception of compassion and consult duration. Sixty-nine patients were randomized to watch one of two videos in which the physician was standing and then sitting (video A) or sitting and then standing (video B) during an inpatient consultation. Both video sequences lasted 9.5 minutes. Thirty-five patients (51%) blindly preferred the sitting physician, 16 (23%) preferred the standing, and 18 (26%) had no preference. Patients perceived that their preferred physician was more compassionate and spent more time with the patient when compared with the other physician. There was a strong period effect favoring the second sequence within the video. The patients blinded choice of preference (P = 0.003), perception of compassion (P = 0.0016), and other attributes favored the second sequence seen in the video. The significant period effect suggests that patients prefer the second option presented, notwithstanding a stated preference for a sitting posture (55/68, 81%). Physicians should ask patients for their preference regarding physician sitting or standing as a way to enhance communication.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Empathy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / psychology*
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Perception
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians*
  • Posture*
  • Time Factors