The study was designed to develop a comprehensive set of ideal physician behaviours. Telephone interviews were conducted in 2001 and 2002 with 192 patients who were seen in 14 medical specialties of Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Rochester.

Based on transcripts of patients detailing their best and worst experiences with a Mayo Clinic physician, study authors identified seven behaviours that describe the ideal physician – confident, empathetic, humane, personal, forthright, respectful and thorough.

Conversely, patients who described a "worst physician" experience focused on traits reflecting opposites of desired physician behaviours, especially perceived insensitive or disrespectful behaviour.

The study suggests that training new and practicing physicians about interpersonal skills could have far-reaching effects for patients. The quality of a patient's relationship with a physician can affect not only a patient's emotional responses, but also behavioural and medical outcomes such as compliance and recovery.

According to James Li, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic Division of Allergic Diseases, health care can't meet a standard of quality if the patient-physician interaction is hurried, disrespectful, cold or callous. Dr. Li has been involved with developing programs and curricula for teaching new and practicing physicians at Mayo Clinic about how to strengthen their interactions with patients.

"A physician who pays personal attention to the patient, who is respectful, compassionate and competent, that's what every patient wants," Dr. Li says. "It's really the duty and obligation of the medical community to design a health care system so that physicians are best able to exhibit those qualities for the good of the patient during the clinical encounter."

MEDICA.de; Source: Mayo Clinic