As patients become increasingly involved in their medical care, physician-patient communication gains importance. A previous study showed that physician self-disclosure (SD) of personal information by primary care providers decreased patient rating of the provider communication skills.
The objective of this study is to explore the incidence and impact of Emergency Department (ED) provider self-disclosure on patients’ rating of provider communication skills.
A survey was administered to 520 adult patients or parents of pediatric patients in a large tertiary care ED during the summer of 2014. The instrument asked patients whether the provider self-disclosed and subsequently asked patients to rate providers’ communication skills. We compared patients’ ratings of communication measurements between encounters where self-disclosure occurred to those where it did not.
Patients reported provider SD in 18.9% of interactions. Provider SD was associated with more positive patient perception of provider communication skills (p<0.005), more positive ratings of provider rapport (p<0.05) and higher satisfaction with provider communication (p<0.05). Patients who noted SD scored their providers’ communication skills as “excellent” (63.4%) compared to patients without self-disclosure (47.1%). Patients reported that they would like to hear about their providers’ experiences with a similar chief complaint (64.4% of patients), their providers’ education (49%), family (33%), personal life (21%) or an injury/ailment unlike their own (18%). Patients responded that providers self-disclose to make patients comfortable/at ease and to build rapport.
Provider self-disclosure in the ED is common and is associated with higher ratings of provider communication, rapport, and patient satisfaction.
Patient, resident, provider communication, education