Practitioners' use of non-verbal behaviour in real consultations

J R Coll Gen Pract. 1980 Jun;30(215):327-31.


Our analysis of real consultations in general practice suggests that eye contact and movements of the body are extremely important in effecting communication between patients and doctors. We have studied non-verbal behaviour in relation to verbal exchanges, and believe that non-verbal behaviour can aid or hinder communication and may sometimes prevent it.We give examples from general practice consultations and conclude that eye contact and posture are particularly significant when coupled with open questions or silences or when they occur at points in the consultation when the patient has reached a crucial part in disclosure.We also believe that the doctor's use of medical records during consultations is most important, and we give examples.We suggest that the non-verbal behaviour of doctors in the general practice consultation is a topic of immense importance and needs much further study.

MeSH terms

  • Family Practice
  • Kinesics*
  • Medical Records
  • Physician-Patient Relations*