Publication date

Communication during gynecological out-patient encounters.

Dulmen, A.M. van. Communication during gynecological out-patient encounters. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology: 1999, 20(3), p. 119-126.
The intimate nature of women's health problems presented during gynecological encounters places great demands on gynecologists' communicative behavior. The present study examined what patients expect from their gynecologist, how gynecologists and patients actually communicate during out-patient encounters, and what factors shape the structure and process of the encounter. Twenty-one gynecologists (13 consultants and eight residents) videotaped 303 consecutive out-patient encounters. Multilevel analysis was used to take into account the similarity among encounters with the same gynecologist. The result showed that gynecological patients expected foremost to receive clear and understandable information. One-third of the patients expected support and understanding. Psychological issues were hardly ever the topic of conversation. The length of the out-patient visits increased in the presence of patients' partner, with the type of problem presented, and with the frequency with which the patient disagreed with the gynecologist. The visit was also longer when gynecologists provided more medical information and aked more psychosocial questions. Although gynecological encounters focus almost exclusively on medical issues, talking about non-somatic aspects does not seem to prolong the visit as much as the
presence of the patient's partner or whether or not the gynecologist and patient had met before. In view of patients' affective needs, it would be worthwhile to examine whether gynecologists can be taught to handle patients' psychosocial needs as well. (aut.ref.)