Doctor-patient interaction, patients' health behavior and effects of treatment

Soc Sci Med. 1984;19(1):9-18. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(84)90132-1.


Studies of doctor-patient communication and its consequences are usually limited to factors that may determine patients' compliance with doctors' instructions. But many patients besides or instead of following doctors' advice undertake additional activity in order to get well. The purpose of this study was to explore the whole range of patients' health behavior, its connection with the process of doctor-patient interaction (as an independent variable) and with the treatment results (as a dependent variable). The direct effect of doctor-patient relationship on the outcome of treatment was also examined. The subjects were 62 out-patients. Two visits of every patient to his physician were tape-recorded and analyzed. To obtain the data concerning patients' health behavior, interviews were performed twice in every case. Treatment results were evaluated by physicians. It was found that some characteristics of the doctor-patient interaction; doctors' directiveness, doctors' emotional attitude towards the patient, patients' activity, patients' partnership status had an effect on patients' health behavior (compliance with doctors' orders and patients' spontaneous health activity). Even stronger was the connection between these with the degree of patients' compliance with doctors' instructions but were positively connected with the amount of patients' spontaneous health activity. Authors analyzed these findings in the light of psychosomatic medicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Behavior
  • Coronary Disease / therapy
  • Gingivitis / therapy
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Self Care*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / therapy