Friday, September 30, 2011

Veterans Health Care - Research: ANN ARBOR: Non-verbal communication can affect medical care, U of M study finds

"Our findings show that both doctors and patients identified tacit clues involving the behavior or appearance of the other, but they were not always able to articulate precisely how these clues informed their judgments and assessments," said lead author Dr. Stephen G. Henry in a news release.

Tacit clues might include non-verbal behaviors such as body language, eye contact, physical appearance and tone of voice. Other factors, such as how frequently the patient was seen in the clinic, might also inform judgments.

One important study finding was that some doctors appeared to be far more conscious than others of the non-verbal messages they send to patients, said Henry.

One doctor was particularly attuned to how non-verbal communication spoke to patients, the authors note.

"In the future, we hope this method of recording and reviewing these types of interactions can inform interventions designed to improve medical decision making and doctor-patient interaction by providing a more complete understanding of the kind of signals upon which doctors and patients rely."

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