Patient satisfaction with the clinical encounter: social psychological determinants

Soc Sci Med. 1987;24(4):351-7. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(87)90153-5.


Patient-practitioner transactions in the ambulatory setting have become an increasingly important focus for research in recent years. In particular, there is growing interest in providing empirical support for our anecdotal, 'common-sense' notions that clinical encounter experiences are a major determinant of outcomes such as the patient's satisfaction with the encounter. The present study was designed to look at this issue and addressed the following two research questions: Is there a relationship between fulfillment of patient requests for services and patient satisfaction with the clinical encounter? and What degree of satisfaction is explained by the qualities of the encounter as compared to the characteristics of the patient, physician, and system of health care? Four newly-developed instruments were administered to a convenience sample of 144 adult patients and their physicians prior to and following actual visits to a University Family Practice Center. Meeting patients' requests increased their satisfaction with the encounter. At least 19% of the variance in patient satisfaction could be attributed to request fulfillment. The implications of these findings for future research into the doctor-patient relationship are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Patient Participation
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Research Design
  • Socioeconomic Factors