To sit or stand during the medical interview: A poll of Caucasian patients

Arjun Gupta, Samar Harris, Harris Naina

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Nonverbal communication is an important component of the interaction between physician and patient. Multiple studies have revealed that patients perceive physicians who are seated during the medical interview as more compassionate and caring and as spending more time with patients. However, sitting on patient beds without permission may be culturally inappropriate and also may enhance nosocomial infection transmission. We interviewed 127 patients using a 14-item questionnaire soliciting patient demographics and their opinions regarding physician's nonverbal behaviors. One fifth of those surveyed reported having had a physician sit on their bed without permission, and more than 80% of patients preferred their physician adopt a position other than on the patient's bed during the medical interview. Asking patients about their preferences regarding physician posture demonstrates respect, and honoring patient's wishes could improve physician-patient communication. Although a sitting posture alone is unlikely to compensate for poor communication skills, asking patients about their preference regarding physician posture, and then following that preference, can be a simple, practical, and inexpensive way of improving communication, and, as a result, patient outcomes. This strategy should be taught in the medical curriculum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-112
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Medical Practice Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2015 by Greenbranch Publishing LLC.


  • Communication
  • Doctor-patient relationship
  • Hospitalized
  • Medical outcomes
  • Medical practice management
  • Nonverbal behavior
  • Outcomes
  • Patient preference
  • Patient-centric medicine
  • Physicians
  • Posture


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