Sitting doctors get higher marks in bedside manners, research finds

The Kansas City StarApril 8, 2010 

It's a common patient grievance: If only my doctor would take the time to listen to me and explain things.

Maybe all your doctor has to do to remedy that complaint is … sit … down.

Patients gave their doctor significantly higher marks for satisfaction and thought they had spent more time with him when he sat — rather than stood — by their bedsides, researchers at the University of Kansas Hospital found.

In fact, the doctor the researchers studied actually spent slightly less time with patients when he sat with them. And he gave his patients much less time than they realized.

"In the hospital, doctors and nurses usually stand. They might think sitting takes them longer," said Joan McMahon, a KU Hospital nurse and one of the researchers. "We have to let people know they have to change their practice."

The wisdom of sitting with patients to build rapport has long been a part of medical folklore, something that is taught to students in nursing and medical school.

But there has been very little scientific backing for it. McMahon and the other KU Hospital researchers set out to test the idea.

They recruited neurosurgeon Paul Arnold as their doctor-guinea pig to see how his patients reacted when he stood or sat.

To read the complete article, visit

McClatchy Washington Bureau is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service