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Does the physician's emotional intelligence matter?: Impacts of the physician's emotional intelligence on the trust, patient-physician relationship, and satisfaction

Weng, Hui-Ching

doi: 10.1097/01.HCM.0000318765.52148.b3

Background: Much of the literature pertinent to management indicates that service providers with high emotional intelligence (EI) receive higher customer satisfaction scores. Previous studies offer limited evidence regarding the impact of physician's EI on patient-physician relationship.

Purposes: Using a multilevel and multisource data approach, the current study aimed to build a model that demonstrated the impact of a physician's EI on the patient's trust and the patient-physician relationship.

Methodology: The survey sample included 983 outpatients and 39 physicians representing 11 specialties.

Findings: Results of path analyses demonstrated that the ratio of patient's follow-up visits (p < .01) and the nurse-rated EI for physicians (p < .05) had positive effects on the patient's trust. The impact of patient's trust on patient's satisfaction was mediated by the patient-physician relationship at a significant level (p < .01). The patient-physician relationship had a significantly positive effect on patient's satisfaction (p < .001). The model accounted for 37% of the variance of patient's trust, 67% of the PDR, and 58% of patient's satisfaction on physician services.

Practice Implications: This study suggests that nurses had the sensitivity and intellectual skills in assessing the physician's performance and the patient's need. Our findings suggest that patient's trust is the cornerstone of the patient-physician relationship; however, mutual trust and professional respect between nurses and physicians play a critical role in reinforcing the patient-physician relationship to effect improvements in the provision of patient-centered care.

Hui-Ching Weng, PhD, is Associate Professor, Health Management Department, I-Shou University, Yanchao Township, Kaohsiung County 82445, Taiwan. E-mail:

This study was funded in part by a grant of the Taiwan National Science Council (NSC94-2516-S-214-002).

Previous presentations: A working version of this article was presented at the 2007 Academy of Management Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and had been judged to be nominated as one of the best paper awards in the division of health care management. It was published as a six-page article in the Best Paper Proceedings of the 2007 Academy of Management Meeting.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.