Numerous studies have demonstrated that patient-centered interaction promotes higher satisfaction and improved health outcomes, whereas poor communication behaviors have been associated with decreased satisfaction and an increased risk of malpractice claims. To our knowledge, no such study has investigated patient preferences for greetings and handshakes in the outpatient orthopaedic setting.
A survey was generated with ranking and Likert scale questions regarding the initial patient-orthopaedic surgeon outpatient interaction. The survey was offered to adult patients at an urban, academic, outpatient orthopaedic surgery clinic. Surveys were completed by subjects while in the waiting room and returned before the first interaction with their orthopaedic surgeon.
Completed surveys were collected from 160 patients over a 3-month period. Overall, medical knowledge was valued above other physician attributes, including the physician greeting (P < 0.001). Subjects preferred a more formal introduction by their physician, with the use of title and first and last name preferred to the physician's first name only (P < 0.001), first and last name only (P < 0.001), and title and last name only (P < 0.001). Patients strongly preferred their physician address them by their first name only compared with first and last name (P < 0.001). Shaking hands was determined to be moderately important and did not vary by any demographic category.
Patients in this cohort considered their orthopaedic surgeon's greeting to be less important than their surgeon's medical knowledge, but more important than their appearance and attire. Respondents preferred their orthopaedic surgeon introduce themselves with their title, first name, and last name but to use the patient's first name only. The results of our study should be taken into consideration when greeting patients to facilitate rapport-building and improve the patient experience.
Level of Evidence:
Level IV, cross-sectional survey study