Patients' Satisfaction With Dentists' Communicative Style
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In this article, it is argued that a dentist's chairside manner of communicating with patients significantly influences dental care outcomes such as patients’ satisfaction, anxiety, and willingness to return for further treatment. Two dimensions of a dentist's communicative style conceivably influence a patient's responses to dental care. Communicative involvement represents the extent to which the dentist appears attentive, perceptive, and responsive to the patient's comments and needs. Communicative dominance refers to the degree to which the dentist controls the nature and topics of the dentist-patient encounter. Immediately after a dental visit, each of 572 patients of 17 dentists in Lubbock, Texas, responded to a questionnaire assessing his or her perceptions of the dentist's communicative style and satisfaction with the dentist. Several findings were noteworthy. First, consistent with comparable research in medical contexts, there was a strong, positive relationship between perceptions of the dentists’ communicative involvement and patients’ satisfaction. Second, there was a moderate, negative relationship between perceptions of the dentists’ communicative dominance and patients’ satisfaction. Third, new patients expressed less satisfaction with dentists who are less involved than did repeat patients. Finally, the relationship between patients’ satisfaction and perceptions of dentists’ communicative involvement was stronger for patients having a high school education or less than for patients having more education. Possible explanations and implications of these findings are discussed. © 1989, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. All rights reserved.
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