Don’t Sugarcoat It: Patients Want Straight-Talking Doctors – A friendly doctor with a sympathetic and upbeat bedside manner may seem like the perfect physician. But a new study has suggested most people want their doctors to just ‘tell it to them straight’ without offering false hope or optimism. In fact, the majority of patients would rather that their GP kept a professional distance, bordering on ‘aloof’ when they are considering a diagnosis.
The findings contradict previous research that suggests the doctor-patient relationship is now more equal, with patients viewing themselves as consumers of healthcare who have often Googled their own symptoms and can be highly informed about their own conditions. Researchers at the University of Southampton video-taped the consultations of 320 patients who visited 25 doctors in the city. Surprisingly, they found that actually patients preferred a traditional style of doctor, who knew them personally but was relatively distant and professional.
Knowing the patient’s history and asking them about their personal life was important to patients feeling that they have a personal relationship with the doctor. Patients preferred doctors who were supportive but to the point without being overly optimistic. They also disliked being patronized.
The study published in the British Journal of General Practice, gives doctors a better insight into how to make patients more comfortable and feel that they’re listened to.