Assessment of nonverbal communication in the patient-physician interview

J Fam Pract. 1981 Mar;12(3):481-8.


The interview portion of 34 patient-physician visits at a family medical center was videotaped. Videotapes were screened by two judges in two major nonverbal categories, immediacy and relaxation. Physician and patient were scored separately at 40-second intervals for 11 component parameters of the two major categories. These scores were correlated with patient satisfaction and understanding, ascertained by post-interview questionnaire. For analytical purposes, patients were assigned to low or high satisfaction groups and low or high understanding groups. Statistically significant (P less than or equal to 05) differences between low and high satisfaction groups were demonstrated with respect to overall physician immediacy; five individual physician nonverbal parameters; and two individual patient nonverbal parameters. Similar statistical results were obtained for understanding groups. This preliminary investigation suggests that nonverbal behavior of the physician in the patient-physician interview is important in determining patient satisfaction and understanding.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nonverbal Communication*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Physician-Patient Relations*