Visits When Doctor Is Seated Seem Longer to Patients

Hospitalized patients perceive bedside encounters as longer when doctor sits rather than stands
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, April 29 (HealthDay News) -- Hospitalized patients perceive brief bedside visits from a physician to be longer if the physician is seated rather than standing, according to research from the University of Kansas.

Kelli J. Swayden, of the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, and colleagues analyzed data from 120 adults who were postoperative neurosurgical inpatients. While on rounds, the neurosurgeon either sat or stood while visiting with the patient. The encounters were timed by a researcher outside the room, who afterward asked the patients about their perception of the length of the visit.

The researchers found that the length of the encounters while the physician was standing averaged 1 min 28 s, though patients perceived the visits as lasting an average 3 min 44 s. Seated visits on average were shorter -- 1 min 4 s -- but patients perceived them as 5 min 14 s.

"These findings should be considered by all health care providers as new ways of enhancing the patient care experience are developed. Along with other nonverbal and verbal communication, body posture is a conscious choice by a health care provider that can be learned and customized to fit particular patients in various clinical settings. It is within a health care provider's power to have a positive effect on patient's satisfaction with the length and quality of the visit," the authors conclude.

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