A new study suggests one very easy way doctors could make their patients feel better: Sit down next to them. University of Kansas researchers studied 120 patients who were recovering from spine surgery. When their doctors stopped by their beds to see how they were doing, half of the physicians stood and the other half sat down in a chair next to their patients.
When the researchers questioned the patients afterward, they found a significant difference between their perception of the length of time their doctor spent with them and the actual time. The average time the standing doctors spent at the bedside was one minute and 28 seconds. But patients perceived that the interaction lasted much longer: an average of three minutes and 44 seconds. When the doctor sat, the visit actually lasted an average of one minute and four seconds. But the patients perceived that the visit had gone on for an average of five minutes and 14 seconds.
More-detailed interviews with 38 of the patients found that when their doctors sat down, 95 per cent rated the interaction as positive. When the doctors stood, that figure was 61 per cent.