The Relationship Between Physician Friendliness and Caring, and Patient Satisfaction: Findings from an Internet-Based Survey
Adam A. Uhas
Fabian T. Camacho
Steven R. Feldman
Background: This study examines patient satisfaction with physicians. Patient satisfaction is a quality measure that affects treatment outcomes. More specifically, it examines how a patient's perception of physician friendliness and caring can affect patient satisfaction. Methods: A cross-sectional survey study was conducted with a convenience sample of 20_901 patients who rated their recent visit to a physician via an internet-based survey. The survey included questions on aspects of overall satisfaction with physician care and office practice as well as more detailed items, including demographics, physician `friendliness and caring' (collectively referred to as `empathy' in this paper), time spent with the doctor, and areas that could be improved. Responses to the questions were on a scale from 0 (`not at all satisfied') to 10 (`extremely satisfied'). These scales were then used to represent patient satisfaction. Results: Of the 20_901 patients who participated in the online survey, perceived empathy was the most predominant correlate associated with patient satisfaction with their physician, with a partial correlation of 0.87 (p_<_0.001) and a Pearson correlation of 0.92 (p_<_0.001). Patient satisfaction with the office setting was also highly correlated with empathy scores, with a partial correlation of 0.72 (p_<_0.001) and a Pearson correlation of 0.83 (p_<_0.001). Other factors, such as waiting time, and problems with appointments, staff, records, parking, doctor care, and ways of obtaining information, also played a role in patients' overall satisfaction with the physician. Conclusions: Patient satisfaction ratings are strongly correlated with patient perceptions of physician friendliness and caring.
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