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The Effect of Feeling Respected and the Patient Role on Patient Outcomes


Claudine Clucas, Centre for Hearing and Balance Studies, University of Bristol, F Block, 8 Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1TN, UK. Email:


Despite respect being central to good doctor–patient relationships, little research has investigated the effect of respect from doctors on patient outcomes. Group-level influences such as patients' identification with a traditional or consumerist patient role have also received little attention. We investigated these factors in two studies. Participants imagined they had tinnitus and either identified with one of the two patient roles (Study 1, n = 85) or completed a scale measuring their usual role preferences (Study 2, n = 54). They read a hypothetical respectful or disrespectful doctor–patient scenario and completed measures of personal self-esteem, visit outcomes, and the Illness Perception Questionnaire. Study 1 was experimental, while Study 2 was quasi-experimental in design. In both studies, participants playing a patient whose doctor's behaviours were respectful reported greater patient satisfaction, adherence, and likelihood of revisiting the doctor, and in Study 1 also scored lower on (imagined) illness identity and consequences and reported higher self-esteem. In Study 1, participants acting as traditional patients reported lower self-esteem. In Study 2, participants self-categorising as traditional patients reported greater patient satisfaction, adherence, trust and respect for the doctor, but lower self-esteem. Respect and the patient role should be considered when predicting health outcomes.