The link between perception of clinical empathy and nonverbal behavior: The effect of a doctor's gaze and body orientation

Sabrina Brugel, Marie Postma-Nilsenová, Kiek Tates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Clinical empathy is considered to be one of the most important skills for medical professionals. It is primarily conveyed by nonverbal behavior; however, little is known about the importance of different types of cues and their relation to engagement and sincerity as possible correlates of perceived clinical empathy (PCE). In this study, we explored the effect of doctor's gaze and body orientation on PCE with the help of 32 video vignettes.

METHODS: Actors impersonating medical interns displayed different combinations of gaze and body orientation while uttering an empathetic verbal statement. The video vignettes were evaluated in terms of the perceived clinical and general empathy, engagement and sincerity.

RESULTS: A principal component analysis revealed a possible single-factor solution for the scales measuring the two types of empathy, engagement and sincerity; therefore, they were subsumed under general perceived empathy (GPE). An analysis of variance showed a main effect of gaze and body orientation, with a stronger effect of gaze, on GPE. We subsequently performed a linear random effects analysis, which indicated possible gender-related differences in the perception of gaze.

CONCLUSIONS: The outcomes of our experiment confirm that both gaze and body orientation have an influence on the GPE. The effect of gaze, however, appears to be gender-dependent: in the experiment, males were perceived as slightly more empathetic with patient-centered gaze, while for females averted gaze resulted in higher GPE scores.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: The findings are directly relevant in the context of medical communication training. Perception of clinical empathy supports medical information transfer, diagnosis quality and other patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1260-5
Number of pages6
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Volume98
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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title = "The link between perception of clinical empathy and nonverbal behavior: The effect of a doctor's gaze and body orientation",
abstract = "OBJECTIVES: Clinical empathy is considered to be one of the most important skills for medical professionals. It is primarily conveyed by nonverbal behavior; however, little is known about the importance of different types of cues and their relation to engagement and sincerity as possible correlates of perceived clinical empathy (PCE). In this study, we explored the effect of doctor's gaze and body orientation on PCE with the help of 32 video vignettes.METHODS: Actors impersonating medical interns displayed different combinations of gaze and body orientation while uttering an empathetic verbal statement. The video vignettes were evaluated in terms of the perceived clinical and general empathy, engagement and sincerity.RESULTS: A principal component analysis revealed a possible single-factor solution for the scales measuring the two types of empathy, engagement and sincerity; therefore, they were subsumed under general perceived empathy (GPE). An analysis of variance showed a main effect of gaze and body orientation, with a stronger effect of gaze, on GPE. We subsequently performed a linear random effects analysis, which indicated possible gender-related differences in the perception of gaze.CONCLUSIONS: The outcomes of our experiment confirm that both gaze and body orientation have an influence on the GPE. The effect of gaze, however, appears to be gender-dependent: in the experiment, males were perceived as slightly more empathetic with patient-centered gaze, while for females averted gaze resulted in higher GPE scores.PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: The findings are directly relevant in the context of medical communication training. Perception of clinical empathy supports medical information transfer, diagnosis quality and other patient outcomes.",
author = "Sabrina Brugel and Marie Postma-Nilsenov{\'a} and Kiek Tates",
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The link between perception of clinical empathy and nonverbal behavior : The effect of a doctor's gaze and body orientation. / Brugel, Sabrina; Postma-Nilsenová, Marie; Tates, Kiek.

In: Patient Education and Counseling, Vol. 98, No. 10, 2015, p. 1260-5.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - The link between perception of clinical empathy and nonverbal behavior

T2 - The effect of a doctor's gaze and body orientation

AU - Brugel, Sabrina

AU - Postma-Nilsenová, Marie

AU - Tates, Kiek

N1 - Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

PY - 2015

Y1 - 2015

N2 - OBJECTIVES: Clinical empathy is considered to be one of the most important skills for medical professionals. It is primarily conveyed by nonverbal behavior; however, little is known about the importance of different types of cues and their relation to engagement and sincerity as possible correlates of perceived clinical empathy (PCE). In this study, we explored the effect of doctor's gaze and body orientation on PCE with the help of 32 video vignettes.METHODS: Actors impersonating medical interns displayed different combinations of gaze and body orientation while uttering an empathetic verbal statement. The video vignettes were evaluated in terms of the perceived clinical and general empathy, engagement and sincerity.RESULTS: A principal component analysis revealed a possible single-factor solution for the scales measuring the two types of empathy, engagement and sincerity; therefore, they were subsumed under general perceived empathy (GPE). An analysis of variance showed a main effect of gaze and body orientation, with a stronger effect of gaze, on GPE. We subsequently performed a linear random effects analysis, which indicated possible gender-related differences in the perception of gaze.CONCLUSIONS: The outcomes of our experiment confirm that both gaze and body orientation have an influence on the GPE. The effect of gaze, however, appears to be gender-dependent: in the experiment, males were perceived as slightly more empathetic with patient-centered gaze, while for females averted gaze resulted in higher GPE scores.PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: The findings are directly relevant in the context of medical communication training. Perception of clinical empathy supports medical information transfer, diagnosis quality and other patient outcomes.

AB - OBJECTIVES: Clinical empathy is considered to be one of the most important skills for medical professionals. It is primarily conveyed by nonverbal behavior; however, little is known about the importance of different types of cues and their relation to engagement and sincerity as possible correlates of perceived clinical empathy (PCE). In this study, we explored the effect of doctor's gaze and body orientation on PCE with the help of 32 video vignettes.METHODS: Actors impersonating medical interns displayed different combinations of gaze and body orientation while uttering an empathetic verbal statement. The video vignettes were evaluated in terms of the perceived clinical and general empathy, engagement and sincerity.RESULTS: A principal component analysis revealed a possible single-factor solution for the scales measuring the two types of empathy, engagement and sincerity; therefore, they were subsumed under general perceived empathy (GPE). An analysis of variance showed a main effect of gaze and body orientation, with a stronger effect of gaze, on GPE. We subsequently performed a linear random effects analysis, which indicated possible gender-related differences in the perception of gaze.CONCLUSIONS: The outcomes of our experiment confirm that both gaze and body orientation have an influence on the GPE. The effect of gaze, however, appears to be gender-dependent: in the experiment, males were perceived as slightly more empathetic with patient-centered gaze, while for females averted gaze resulted in higher GPE scores.PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: The findings are directly relevant in the context of medical communication training. Perception of clinical empathy supports medical information transfer, diagnosis quality and other patient outcomes.

U2 - 10.1016/j.pec.2015.08.007

DO - 10.1016/j.pec.2015.08.007

M3 - Article

C2 - 26320820

VL - 98

SP - 1260

EP - 1265

JO - Patient Education and Counseling

JF - Patient Education and Counseling

SN - 0738-3991

IS - 10

ER -