Patient satisfaction scores improve when doctors sit

Patient satisfaction, as I wrote previously, is being increasingly focused upon.

Doctors are often pressed for time, and appear rushed — which can potentially lead to unhappy patients.

I saw this small study showing that the simple act of sitting down while talking to patients can have a profound effect. Many doctors I know already do this, but now there’s some data to support sitting.

According to the study, performed at a University of Kansas Hospital, a physician documented 120 visits, half of which he conducted sitting, and the other half, standing:

The researchers found that [the researching physician] Arnold’s standing visits lasted an average of 1 minute, 28 seconds. The patients, meanwhile, thought the appointment lasted an average of 3:44.

When Arnold sat down, the average time spent seated was just over one minute, which was actually shorter than when he stood. But the patients thought he spent more than five minutes in the room.

Overall, patients thought Arnold spent 40 percent more time in the room when he sat down.

Furthermore, when patients were asked about the interaction, “the ones who saw the seated doctor ‘expressed greater satisfaction and a better sense of understanding of their condition,’ than those who saw the standing doc.”

So, maybe, while doctors continue to lobby for more time to spend with patients, they can help themselves simply by sitting down in the exam room.