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Vigier, M; Thorson, KR; Andritsch, E; Stoeger, H; Suerth, L; Farkas, C; Schwerdtfeger, AR.
Physiological linkage during interactions between doctors and cancer patients.
Soc Sci Med. 2021; 284:114220 Doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2021.114220 [OPEN ACCESS]
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Führende Autor*innen der Med Uni Graz
Vigier Marta Urszula
Co-Autor*innen der Med Uni Graz
Andritsch Elisabeth
Farkas-Schauer Clemens
Stöger Herbert

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INTRODUCTION: Doctors and patients influence each other when interacting and, as a result, can become similar to each other in affect and behavior. In the current work, we examine whether they also become similar to each other on a moment-to-moment basis in their physiological responses. Specifically, we examine physiological linkage-how much a doctor's (or patient's) physiological response predicts a patient's (or doctor's) response at a subsequent time interval-and whether this changes over the course of doctor-patient relationships (measured as the number of consultations held for each unique doctor-patient dyad). METHODS: We collected interbeat interval responses (IBI) continuously during consultations between oncologists and patients undergoing cancer treatment (N = 102 unique doctor-patient interactions) at a hospital in Austria. RESULTS: Physiological linkage varied by an interaction between role (doctor vs. patient) and relationship length (in a non-linear, quadratic pattern). Patients showed significant positive linkage to their doctors (i.e., doctors' physiological responses positively, significantly predicted patients' responses) in relationships that spanned three to eight consultations together. Patients were not linked to their doctors in shorter or longer relationships. Doctors were never significantly linked to their patients, meaning that patients' physiological responses never predicted doctors' responses. CONCLUSION: These results reveal that, by influencing patients' physiological responses on a moment-to-moment basis, doctors may have even more influence over patients' physiology than previously known.

Find related publications in this database (Keywords)
Doctor-patient interaction
Doctor-patient relationships
Physiological linkage
Relationship length
Continuity of care
Non-linear dynamics
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