Doctors' Interpersonal Skills Valued More Than Their Training or Being Up-to-Date

Oct 01, 2004, 01:00 ET from Harris Interactive

    ROCHESTER, N.Y., Oct. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. adults believe it is
 extremely important for their doctors to have strong interpersonal skills such
 as being respectful (85%) and listening carefully to health care concerns and
 questions (84%), though they also value highly good medical judgment (80%),
 according to the results of a new Harris Interactive(R) poll of 2,267 U.S.
 adults conducted online between September 21 and 23, 2004 for the Wall Street
 Journal Online's Health Industry Edition.
     In addition, adults feel it is important for a doctor to be easy to talk
 to (84%), to take their concerns seriously (83%) and truly care about them and
 their health (81%).
     The biggest "gap" in what people want from doctors vs. what they actually
 get is related to how up-to-date their doctors are on the latest medical
 research and treatment, where 78 percent feel this knowledge is extremely
 important for their doctors to have, but only 54 percent actually described
 their doctors as being up-to-date.
     With interpersonal skills being of so much value to patients, it is no
 surprise that some have changed doctors due to interpersonal failures.
 Fourteen percent changed because they didn't feel their doctors listened to
 them carefully, 12 percent felt as though their doctors didn't spend enough
 time with them, and 11 percent felt that they weren't treated with respect.
     The survey also showed that a majority of patients prefer to communicate
 with their doctors by telephone (71%) when they have a non-urgent question
 rather than in person (21%) or via email (8%).
     "These startling numbers show that doctors' training and knowledge of new
 medical treatments are less important to many patients than their
 interpersonal skills -- treating patients with respect, listening carefully,
 being easy to talk to, taking patients' concerns seriously, spending enough
 time with them, and really caring," says Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The
 Harris Poll(R). "When it comes to changing doctors, it is overwhelmingly their
 interpersonal failings -- not listening to patients, keeping them waiting, not
 spending enough time with them and not treating them with respect -- which
 drive patients away."
 
 
                                    TABLE 1
             WHAT PEOPLE WANT FROM THEIR DOCTORS AND WHAT THEY GET
     Q:  "Think about the qualities of the doctor or doctors who treat you.
 Which of the following qualities are extremely important to you -- that he or
 she ... ?"
     Q:  "Which of the following phrases, if any do you think describe your
 current doctor well?  If you have more than one doctor, please answer based on
 the doctor you visit most frequently."
 
     Base: All Adults
 
                                     Extremely        Describes         Gap*
                                     Important          Your
                                                       Doctor
                                                         Well
                                           %               %             %
     Treats you with dignity and
      respect                             85              73           -12
     Listens carefully to your health
      care concerns and questions         84              68           -16
     Is easy to talk to                   84              69           -15
     Takes your concerns seriously        83              69           -14
     Is willing to spend enough time
      with you                            81              62           -19
     Truly cares about you and
      your health                         81              63           -18
     Has good medical judgment            80              65           -15
     Asks you good questions to
      really understand your
      medical conditions and
      your needs                          79              61           -18
     Is up-to-date with the
      latest medical research
      and medical treatment               78              54           -24
     Can see you at short notice,
      if necessary                        71              53           -18
     Responds promptly when you
      call or email with questions
      or concerns                         60              38           -22
     Has a lot of experience
      treating patients with
      your medical condition(s)           58              45           -13
     Could get you admitted to a
      leading hospital when you need it   55              46            -9
     Has been trained in one of the
      best medical schools                27              25            -2
     Is of your own sex or gender         15              36           +21
     Is of your own race or ethnic
      background                          10              30           +20
 
     *The difference between first two columns.
 
 
                                    TABLE 2
                    REASONS WHY PEOPLE CHANGE THEIR DOCTORS
     "In the past five years, have you ever changed your doctor (or doctors)
 for any of the following reasons?"
 
     Base: All Adults
 
                                        Total                   Sex
                                                         Male        Female
                                           %              %             %
     Didn't listen carefully to you       14              10            17
     Kept you waiting too long            13              11            15
     Didn't spend enough time with you    12              11            13
     Didn't treat you with respect        11               8            14
     Wasn't available when you
      needed him or her                   11               9            12
     Had nurses or office staff
      you didn't like                      9               4            13
     Did not prescribe appropriate
      treatment                            8               6            11
     Didn't explain your medical
      problems so you could
      understand them                      8               6            10
     Didn't answer your questions
      honestly and completely              7               5             8
     Wasn't knowledgeable and competent    6               5             7
     Charged fees which were
      unreasonable                         6               5             7
     Didn't seem up-to-date with new
      medical advances                     5               4             6
     Didn't order the appropriate test     5               3             6
     Refused to accept a second opinion
      from another doctor                  3               2             3
     None of these/Did not change
      doctors                             72              77            67
 
 
                                    TABLE 3
               PREFERRED WAY TO ASK DOCTORS NON-URGENT QUESTIONS
     "Patients and physicians can communicate in different ways.  When you have
 a non-urgent question for your doctor, how do you prefer to communicate with
 him or her?"
 
     Base: All Adults
 
                                        Total                   Sex
                                                         Male         Female
                                           %              %             %
     By telephone                         71              68            74
     In person                            21              22            20
     Via email                             8              10             6
 
     Note: These data have been adjusted for the fact that only 70% of adults
 are online.
 
     J092104
     Q405, Q410, Q420, Q425
 
     Downloadable PDFs of Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Health-
 Care Polls are posted at
 http://www.harrisinteractive.com/news/newsletters_wsj.asp.
 
     Methodology
     This poll was conducted online in the U.S. between September 21-23, 2004
 among a nationwide cross section of 2,267 adults. Figures for age, sex,
 race/ethnicity, education, income and region were weighted where necessary to
 align with population proportions. Propensity score weighting was also used to
 adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.
     In theory, with probability samples of this size, one could say with 95
 percent certainty that the results have a sampling error of plus or minus 3
 percentage points of what they would be if the entire U.S. adult population
 had been polled with complete accuracy. Unfortunately, there are several other
 possible sources of error in all polls or surveys that are probably more
 serious than theoretical calculations of sampling error. They include refusals
 to be interviewed (nonresponse), question wording and question order,
 interviewer bias, weighting by demographic control data and screening (e.g.,
 for likely voters).  It is impossible to quantify the errors that may result
 from these factors. This online sample was not a probability sample.
     These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National
 Council on Public Polls.
 
     About the Survey
     The Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Health-Care Poll is an
 exclusive poll that is published in the award-winning Health Industry Edition
 of The Wall Street Journal Online at http://www.wsj.com/health.
 
     About The Wall Street Journal Online
     The Wall Street Journal Online at WSJ.com, published by Dow Jones &
 Company (NYSE:   DJ; http://www.dowjones.com), offers authoritative analysis,
 breaking news and commentary from top industry journalists. Launched in 1996,
 the Online Journal is the largest paid subscription news site on the Web, with
 more than 689,000 subscribers world-wide. The Online Journal provides in-depth
 business news and financial information 24 hours a day, seven days a week,
 with insight and analysis, including breaking business and technology news and
 analysis from around the world. It draws on the Dow Jones network of more than
 1,500 reporters and editors -- the largest staff of business and financial
 journalists in the world. For the second consecutive year in 2003, the Online
 Journal received a WebAward for the "Best Newspaper Web Site" and was also
 cited by Yahoo! Internet Life magazine as the "Best Business News" site (2002
 & 2001).
 
     About Dow Jones & Company
     In addition to The Wall Street Journal and its international and online
 editions, Dow Jones & Company (NYSE:   DJ; dowjones.com) also publishes Barron's
 and the Far Eastern Economic Review, Dow Jones Newswires, Dow Jones Indexes
 and the Ottaway group of community newspapers. Dow Jones is co-owner with
 Reuters Group of Factiva, with Hearst of SmartMoney and with NBC of the CNBC
 television operations in Asia and Europe. Dow Jones also provides news content
 to CNBC and radio stations in the U.S.
 
     About Harris Interactive(R)
     Harris Interactive (http://www.harrisinteractive.com) is a global research
 firm that blends premier strategic consulting with innovative and efficient
 methods of investigation, analysis and application. Well known for The Harris
 Poll(R) and for pioneering Internet-based research methods, Rochester, New
 York-based Harris Interactive conducts proprietary and public research to help
 its clients around the world achieve clear, material and enduring results.
     Harris Interactive combines its intellectual capital, databases and
 technology to advance market leadership through its U.S. offices and wholly
 owned subsidiaries: London-based HI Europe (http://www.hieurope.com), Paris-
 based Novatris (http://www.novatris.com), Tokyo-based Harris Interactive
 Japan, recently acquired U.S.-based WirthlinWorldwide
 (http://www.wirthlinworldwide.com) and through a global network of affiliate
 firms. EOE M/F/D/V
 
     To become a member of the Harris Poll Online(SM) and be invited to
 participate in future online surveys, visit http://www.harrispollonline.com.
 
      Press Contacts:
      Nicole C. Pyhel
      The Wall Street Journal Online
      609-520-4057
 
      Nancy Wong
      Harris Interactive
      585-214-7316
 
      Kelly Gullo
      Harris Interactive
      585-214-7172
 
 

SOURCE Harris Interactive
    ROCHESTER, N.Y., Oct. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. adults believe it is
 extremely important for their doctors to have strong interpersonal skills such
 as being respectful (85%) and listening carefully to health care concerns and
 questions (84%), though they also value highly good medical judgment (80%),
 according to the results of a new Harris Interactive(R) poll of 2,267 U.S.
 adults conducted online between September 21 and 23, 2004 for the Wall Street
 Journal Online's Health Industry Edition.
     In addition, adults feel it is important for a doctor to be easy to talk
 to (84%), to take their concerns seriously (83%) and truly care about them and
 their health (81%).
     The biggest "gap" in what people want from doctors vs. what they actually
 get is related to how up-to-date their doctors are on the latest medical
 research and treatment, where 78 percent feel this knowledge is extremely
 important for their doctors to have, but only 54 percent actually described
 their doctors as being up-to-date.
     With interpersonal skills being of so much value to patients, it is no
 surprise that some have changed doctors due to interpersonal failures.
 Fourteen percent changed because they didn't feel their doctors listened to
 them carefully, 12 percent felt as though their doctors didn't spend enough
 time with them, and 11 percent felt that they weren't treated with respect.
     The survey also showed that a majority of patients prefer to communicate
 with their doctors by telephone (71%) when they have a non-urgent question
 rather than in person (21%) or via email (8%).
     "These startling numbers show that doctors' training and knowledge of new
 medical treatments are less important to many patients than their
 interpersonal skills -- treating patients with respect, listening carefully,
 being easy to talk to, taking patients' concerns seriously, spending enough
 time with them, and really caring," says Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The
 Harris Poll(R). "When it comes to changing doctors, it is overwhelmingly their
 interpersonal failings -- not listening to patients, keeping them waiting, not
 spending enough time with them and not treating them with respect -- which
 drive patients away."
 
 
                                    TABLE 1
             WHAT PEOPLE WANT FROM THEIR DOCTORS AND WHAT THEY GET
     Q:  "Think about the qualities of the doctor or doctors who treat you.
 Which of the following qualities are extremely important to you -- that he or
 she ... ?"
     Q:  "Which of the following phrases, if any do you think describe your
 current doctor well?  If you have more than one doctor, please answer based on
 the doctor you visit most frequently."
 
     Base: All Adults
 
                                     Extremely        Describes         Gap*
                                     Important          Your
                                                       Doctor
                                                         Well
                                           %               %             %
     Treats you with dignity and
      respect                             85              73           -12
     Listens carefully to your health
      care concerns and questions         84              68           -16
     Is easy to talk to                   84              69           -15
     Takes your concerns seriously        83              69           -14
     Is willing to spend enough time
      with you                            81              62           -19
     Truly cares about you and
      your health                         81              63           -18
     Has good medical judgment            80              65           -15
     Asks you good questions to
      really understand your
      medical conditions and
      your needs                          79              61           -18
     Is up-to-date with the
      latest medical research
      and medical treatment               78              54           -24
     Can see you at short notice,
      if necessary                        71              53           -18
     Responds promptly when you
      call or email with questions
      or concerns                         60              38           -22
     Has a lot of experience
      treating patients with
      your medical condition(s)           58              45           -13
     Could get you admitted to a
      leading hospital when you need it   55              46            -9
     Has been trained in one of the
      best medical schools                27              25            -2
     Is of your own sex or gender         15              36           +21
     Is of your own race or ethnic
      background                          10              30           +20
 
     *The difference between first two columns.
 
 
                                    TABLE 2
                    REASONS WHY PEOPLE CHANGE THEIR DOCTORS
     "In the past five years, have you ever changed your doctor (or doctors)
 for any of the following reasons?"
 
     Base: All Adults
 
                                        Total                   Sex
                                                         Male        Female
                                           %              %             %
     Didn't listen carefully to you       14              10            17
     Kept you waiting too long            13              11            15
     Didn't spend enough time with you    12              11            13
     Didn't treat you with respect        11               8            14
     Wasn't available when you
      needed him or her                   11               9            12
     Had nurses or office staff
      you didn't like                      9               4            13
     Did not prescribe appropriate
      treatment                            8               6            11
     Didn't explain your medical
      problems so you could
      understand them                      8               6            10
     Didn't answer your questions
      honestly and completely              7               5             8
     Wasn't knowledgeable and competent    6               5             7
     Charged fees which were
      unreasonable                         6               5             7
     Didn't seem up-to-date with new
      medical advances                     5               4             6
     Didn't order the appropriate test     5               3             6
     Refused to accept a second opinion
      from another doctor                  3               2             3
     None of these/Did not change
      doctors                             72              77            67
 
 
                                    TABLE 3
               PREFERRED WAY TO ASK DOCTORS NON-URGENT QUESTIONS
     "Patients and physicians can communicate in different ways.  When you have
 a non-urgent question for your doctor, how do you prefer to communicate with
 him or her?"
 
     Base: All Adults
 
                                        Total                   Sex
                                                         Male         Female
                                           %              %             %
     By telephone                         71              68            74
     In person                            21              22            20
     Via email                             8              10             6
 
     Note: These data have been adjusted for the fact that only 70% of adults
 are online.
 
     J092104
     Q405, Q410, Q420, Q425
 
     Downloadable PDFs of Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Health-
 Care Polls are posted at
 http://www.harrisinteractive.com/news/newsletters_wsj.asp.
 
     Methodology
     This poll was conducted online in the U.S. between September 21-23, 2004
 among a nationwide cross section of 2,267 adults. Figures for age, sex,
 race/ethnicity, education, income and region were weighted where necessary to
 align with population proportions. Propensity score weighting was also used to
 adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.
     In theory, with probability samples of this size, one could say with 95
 percent certainty that the results have a sampling error of plus or minus 3
 percentage points of what they would be if the entire U.S. adult population
 had been polled with complete accuracy. Unfortunately, there are several other
 possible sources of error in all polls or surveys that are probably more
 serious than theoretical calculations of sampling error. They include refusals
 to be interviewed (nonresponse), question wording and question order,
 interviewer bias, weighting by demographic control data and screening (e.g.,
 for likely voters).  It is impossible to quantify the errors that may result
 from these factors. This online sample was not a probability sample.
     These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National
 Council on Public Polls.
 
     About the Survey
     The Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Health-Care Poll is an
 exclusive poll that is published in the award-winning Health Industry Edition
 of The Wall Street Journal Online at http://www.wsj.com/health.
 
     About The Wall Street Journal Online
     The Wall Street Journal Online at WSJ.com, published by Dow Jones &
 Company (NYSE:   DJ; http://www.dowjones.com), offers authoritative analysis,
 breaking news and commentary from top industry journalists. Launched in 1996,
 the Online Journal is the largest paid subscription news site on the Web, with
 more than 689,000 subscribers world-wide. The Online Journal provides in-depth
 business news and financial information 24 hours a day, seven days a week,
 with insight and analysis, including breaking business and technology news and
 analysis from around the world. It draws on the Dow Jones network of more than
 1,500 reporters and editors -- the largest staff of business and financial
 journalists in the world. For the second consecutive year in 2003, the Online
 Journal received a WebAward for the "Best Newspaper Web Site" and was also
 cited by Yahoo! Internet Life magazine as the "Best Business News" site (2002
 & 2001).
 
     About Dow Jones & Company
     In addition to The Wall Street Journal and its international and online
 editions, Dow Jones & Company (NYSE:   DJ; dowjones.com) also publishes Barron's
 and the Far Eastern Economic Review, Dow Jones Newswires, Dow Jones Indexes
 and the Ottaway group of community newspapers. Dow Jones is co-owner with
 Reuters Group of Factiva, with Hearst of SmartMoney and with NBC of the CNBC
 television operations in Asia and Europe. Dow Jones also provides news content
 to CNBC and radio stations in the U.S.
 
     About Harris Interactive(R)
     Harris Interactive (http://www.harrisinteractive.com) is a global research
 firm that blends premier strategic consulting with innovative and efficient
 methods of investigation, analysis and application. Well known for The Harris
 Poll(R) and for pioneering Internet-based research methods, Rochester, New
 York-based Harris Interactive conducts proprietary and public research to help
 its clients around the world achieve clear, material and enduring results.
     Harris Interactive combines its intellectual capital, databases and
 technology to advance market leadership through its U.S. offices and wholly
 owned subsidiaries: London-based HI Europe (http://www.hieurope.com), Paris-
 based Novatris (http://www.novatris.com), Tokyo-based Harris Interactive
 Japan, recently acquired U.S.-based WirthlinWorldwide
 (http://www.wirthlinworldwide.com) and through a global network of affiliate
 firms. EOE M/F/D/V
 
     To become a member of the Harris Poll Online(SM) and be invited to
 participate in future online surveys, visit http://www.harrispollonline.com.
 
      Press Contacts:
      Nicole C. Pyhel
      The Wall Street Journal Online
      609-520-4057
 
      Nancy Wong
      Harris Interactive
      585-214-7316
 
      Kelly Gullo
      Harris Interactive
      585-214-7172
 
 SOURCE  Harris Interactive