Mediating role of physician's empathy between physician's communication and patient's satisfaction

J Family Med Prim Care. 2024 Apr;13(4):1530-1534. doi: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_1615_23. Epub 2024 Apr 22.

Abstract

Introduction: Physician communication is vital for an effective physician-patient relationship. Physician empathy is crucial to patient communication. The relationship between physician empathy, physician communication, and patient satisfaction is not very clear. This study aims to study the mediating role of physician's empathy between physician's communication, physician's empathy, and patient's satisfaction.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted at the National Institute of Psychology, Quaid-i-Azam University, during the time period of December 2018 to February 2019. Employing the technique of purposive convenience sampling, data were collected (N = 238) from psychiatric, cardiology, and dermatology wards of public and private sector hospitals of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. The Communication Assessment Tool, specifically the Patient's Perception of Physician's Empathy and Patient Satisfaction Scale, was used to assess study variables. The measures used in the research assess the patient's perception of the physician's communication, empathy, and patient's satisfaction. Formal permission for the research was taken from the hospital administration with approval from the institutional review boards. Participants were briefed about the purpose of the research. Both verbal and written informed consent was taken from them.

Results: The result shows that a physician's empathy plays a mediating role between the physician's communication skills and patient satisfaction. Moreover, Pearson product-moment correlation indicated a significant positive relationship between doctors' communication skills, doctors' empathy, and patients' satisfaction.

Conclusion: Building a positive doctor-patient relationship would not only lead to improved patient satisfaction but also reduce the likelihood of medical malpractice. Therefore, steps should be taken to enforce trust, interaction, and empathy in doctor-patient relationships, with patient-centered services. Physician's empathy plays a mediating role between physician's communication skills and patient's satisfaction.

Keywords: Patient’s satisfaction; physician’s communication; physician’s empathy.