Pleasing doctors: when it gets in the wayBMJ 2007; 335 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39325.646887.94 (Published 06 September 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:514
- Robert Klitzman, associate professor of clinical psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons and Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York
“You want your doctors to like you,” she said. “You want to be a good patient and sometimes are afraid to rock the boat.” The woman speaking to me was a physician with cancer. I was interviewing her as part of a study of doctors who had become sick with serious disease.1 To my surprise, she and others I talked to described repeatedly how they hesitated to be aggressive or “pushy” with their own healthcare providers and instead tried to please them.
“If I trust the doctor,” another doctor with cancer told me, “he feels good. The fewer questions I ask, the happier he is and the more positive he'll relate to me. I want him to know he's a good guy.”
In general, people want others in social interactions to feel positively, and doctor-patient interactions are no exception. Unfortunately such behaviour can hamper open communication between patients and their providers and hence impair care.
The best doctor-patient communication can enhance interpersonal relationships, information exchange, medical decision making, informed consent, and patients' satisfaction, adherence, understanding, and, possibly, health outcomes.2 3 4
As another …