'She gave it her best shot right away': patient experiences of biomedical and patient-centered communication

Patient Educ Couns. 2006 May;61(2):200-11. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2005.02.019. Epub 2005 Sep 8.


Objective: Medical educators and researchers recommend a patient-centered interviewing style, but little empirical data exists regarding what aspects of physician communication patients like and why. We investigated patient responses to videotaped doctor-patient vignettes to ascertain what they liked about patient-centered and biomedical communication.

Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews with 230 adult medicine patients who viewed videotapes depicting both patient-centered and biomedical physician communication styles. We used a mixed methods approach to derive a "ground-up" framework of patient communication preferences.

Results: Respondents who preferred different communication styles articulated different sets of values, important physician behaviors, and physician-patient role expectations. Participants who preferred the patient-centered physician (69%) liked that she worked with and respected patients and explored what the patient wanted. Participants who preferred the biomedical physician (31%) liked that she prevented harm, demonstrated medical authority, and delivered information clearly.

Conclusions: Patients like (and dislike) patient-centered communication for thoughtful, considered reasons that appear grounded in their values and expectations about physicians, patients, and the clinical encounter.

Practice implications: Better understanding the diversity of patient communication preferences may lead to more effective and individualized care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Authoritarianism
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Clinical Competence / standards
  • Communication*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Empathy
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Patient-Centered Care / organization & administration*
  • Physician's Role / psychology
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Qualitative Research
  • San Francisco
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Trust
  • Truth Disclosure
  • Videotape Recording