To BATHE or not to BATHE: patient satisfaction with visits to their family physician

Fam Med. 2008 Jun;40(6):407-11.


Background: BATHE is an acronym for Background, Affect, Trouble, Handling, and Empathy and refers to specific questions or comments incorporated into a standard medical interview. The BATHE technique was developed as a rapid psychosocial intervention for the assessment of psychological factors that may contribute to patients' physical complaints. The present research was designed to determine whether the use of BATHE significantly increased patient satisfaction during a visit to a family physician.

Methods: Four family physicians in a busy urban family practice center were involved in the study. Two physicians were instructed to use the BATHE protocols until data had been collected from 10 patients and then to proceed in their usual fashion with their next 10 patients. The other two physicians conducted their interview as usual with their first 10 patients and then used BATHE with the following 10 patients. All patients were asked to complete a satisfaction survey following their consultation.

Results: BATHEd patients responded with significantly higher ratings for 8 of the 11 satisfaction measures, including those related to information provided, perception of physician concern, and likelihood of recommending the physician to others.

Conclusions: The results of this pilot study support the use of BATHE with primary care patients, as it increases patient satisfaction, possibly by helping patients sense that their physician is sympathetic and concerned.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Data Collection
  • Empathy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Office Visits*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians, Family*
  • Private Practice