Communication & Medicine, Vol 13, No 2 (2016)

Verbal compliance-gaining strategies used by male physicians and patient healthcare experience

Annabel Levesque, Han Z. Li
Issued Date: 4 May 2017


This study explores male physicians’ use of verbal compliance gaining strategies to encourage patients to adhere to medication regimens, lifestyle changes, or future appointments, and assesses which strategies are associated with patients’ reported healthcare experiences. Five physicians from a family practice clinic in northern British Columbia, Canada, were audio-recorded while interacting with 31 patients during actual consultations. Compliance-gaining utterances were coded into five categories of strategies, while patient experience with care was assessed using a questionnaire. A number of intriguing findings emerged: direct orders were related to a more negative experience with interpersonal aspects of care, but were fairly frequently used, especially with female patients. Persuasion was the only strategy that promoted a positive patient experience, but was rarely used. However, the effect of persuasion on patient experience was no longer significant when adjusting for patients’ health status. Physicians relied mostly on motivation strategies to encourage adherence, but these strategies were not related to patients’ assessment of their healthcare experiences. These results suggest that the most frequently used verbal compliance gaining strategies by physicians are not always appreciated by patients. To be more effective, it is necessary to inform physicians about which compliance-gaining strategies promote a positive patient healthcare experience.

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DOI: 10.1558/cam.17143


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