The influence of a companion on the doctor-elderly patient interaction

Health Commun. 1989;1(1):55-70. doi: 10.1207/s15327027hc0101_7.


Based on findings that elderly patients brought companions to their medical appointments more often than middle-aged patients, the influence of the companion was examined. Twelve of 21 patients 60 to 85 years old brought companions. There was no significant difference in length of interaction for patients with and without companions, indicating that companions, by speaking, took time away from patients. Doctors directed fewer comments to companions than companions directed to doctors, indicating that companions responded or initiated comments when doctors were not addressing them. Companions played three roles: watchdog, significant other, and surrogate patient.