Evidence that rapport building skills make a difference

Buller and Buller (1987) described two general styles displayed by physicians in medical visits. The first, affiliation, was composed of behaviours designed to establish and maintain a positive doctor-patient relationship. Many of these behaviours were those discussed in the section above including;

  • friendliness
  • interest
  • attentiveness
  • •empathy
  • non-judgemental attitude
  • social orientation

The second style included behaviours that established the doctor’s power, status, authority and professional distance. They found that patient satisfaction was significantly higher when doctors adopted the affiliative style. Bertakis et al(1991) have also demonstrated that patients are most satisfied by interviews that encourage them to talk about psycho-social issues in an atmosphere that is characterised by an absence of physician dominance and the presence of friendliness and interest.

Ball, Roter and Katz (1988) in a meta-analysis of 41 independent studies reported that patient satisfaction was related to

  • the amount of information given by doctors
  • greater technical and interpersonal competence
  • more partnership building
  • more positive talk
  • morn positive non-verbal behaviour
  • more social conversation

The definitions used to group behaviours together under “partnership building” and “positive talk” include many of the rapport building skills that we have enlarged upon above.

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