Objective: Patients commonly perceive that a provider has spent more time at their bedside when the provider sits rather than stands. This study provides empirical evidence for this perception.
Methods: We conducted a prospective, randomized, controlled study with 120 adult post-operative inpatients admitted for elective spine surgery. The actual lengths of the interactions were compared to patients' estimations of the time of those interactions.
Results: Patients perceived the provider as present at their bedside longer when he sat, even though the actual time the physician spent at the bedside did not change significantly whether he sat or stood. Patients with whom the physician sat reported a more positive interaction and a better understanding of their condition.
Conclusion: Simply sitting instead of standing at a patient's bedside can have a significant impact on patient satisfaction, patient compliance, and provider-patient rapport, all of which are known factors in decreased litigation, decreased lengths of stay, decreased costs, and improved clinical outcomes.
Practice implications: Any healthcare provider may have a positive effect on doctor-patient interaction by sitting as opposed to standing during a hospital follow-up visit.
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