What Makes a Good Doctor?: The Personal Qualities that Relate to Patient Satisfaction

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Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Pamela Bacon, Psychology


What characteristics are important in a doctor? Researchers have looked into this question from the doctors' perspective, but patients' opinions may differ. This study aimed to look at what characteristics are important in a doctor from the viewpoint of the patient; participants described a positive doctor's office visit or a negative doctor's office visit, depending on condition assignment, answered questions about satisfaction and quality of the doctor, and rated the doctor on a variety of characteristics. Results found that doctors described in the positive visit condition had significantly higher ratings on interpersonal qualities and on competence. Their ratings were also significantly positively correlated to patient ratings of satisfaction, overall quality of the doctor, and successfulness of the doctor. These results suggest that both interpersonal qualities and competence are important in a doctor; this information could be used by medical school admissions to admit students with the most promise for becoming a successful doctor.