Communication skills utilized by physicians in the pediatric outpatient setting

T. Lee, E. C. Lin, H. C. Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Effective communication has been shown to increase patient satisfaction. The objective of this study was to describe communication strategies employed by physicians, and determine if physician communication strategies affect caregiver perception of quality or satisfaction with physician communication in a pediatric ambulatory setting. Methods: This observational study was conducted at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and consisted of video recordings of visits that were reviewed by research assistants for physician utilized communication strategies. Caregivers completed surveys on their preferred physician communication qualities, perception of communication quality, and satisfaction with communication. Correlation was performed between types of communication strategy and caregiver satisfaction with communication or perceived quality of communication. T-tests were run to see if there was a significant difference in patient perceived communication and satisfaction scores based on the communication strategies utilized during visits. Results: There were five universally used communication strategies across the 84 clinic visits recorded, including: eye contact, good posture, speaking concisely, providing thorough explanations, and providing summary of next steps. The average number of communication strategies used was 15.95 (σ = 1.50) with physicians using at least 16 of the 18 communication strategies in 62% of the clinic visits. There was no correlation between the number of communication strategies physicians utilized and either the caregiver perception of communication quality score (CPCQ) or communication satisfaction (CS) score. Caregivers who preferred an authoritative approach but perceived a collaborative approach reported lower average CPCQ and CS scores compared to caregivers who had their communication expectations met. Discussion: There are numerous tools designed to help the physician facilitate an effective working relationship with the patient. In our study, the universally used verbal communication strategies are generally recognized as components of an effective communication repertoire. Another part of effective communication is meeting communication expectations with the CS scores suggesting that caregivers felt their communication needs were being met. Dedicating clinical time to understanding this need may help improve the overall clinical experience. Conclusion: Physicians utilize many of the suggested communication strategies to help facilitate an effective clinical encounter. Further studies on caregiver communication requirements and meeting caregiver communication expectations are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number993
JournalBMC health services research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Communication
  • Communication strategies
  • Patient satisfaction
  • Pediatrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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