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humility, physician humility, clinician humility, clinician patient relationship, doctor patient relationship, patient satisfaction, trust, health status


Objective: In medicine, numerous commentaries implore clinicians (e.g., physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners) to display more humility. However, given the complex power dynamics between patients and clinicians, one should not presume that patients desire and appreciate humble clinicians. This paper examines the relationship between clinician humility and patient outcomes, and aims to provide empirical evidence for the significance of clinician humility.

Methods: In two studies, patients (N = 497) recalled their most recent visit to a clinician through an online survey platform (Qualtrics). Patients rated their clinician’s humility, their satisfaction and trust with their clinician, and their health status. They also provided demographic information (e.g., gender, race, subjective SES), details about their clinician (e.g., gender, race, professional status) and information about their last medical visit with this clinician (e.g., purpose of visit, wait time during visit).

Results: Through hierarchical multiple regression, we demonstrated that clinician humility positively predicted patient satisfaction, trust, and self-report health (only in Study 2) above and beyond patient, clinician, and visit characteristics.

Conclusion: The results demonstrated that clinician humility can predict important patient outcomes above and beyond objective characteristics of the medical interaction.

Practice Implications: These findings may shape clinician-patient interactions by validating the pursuit of humility during medical encounters.

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© 2019. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license

For the final, published version of this article, please see:

Huynh, H., & Bohmann, A. (2019). Humble doctors, healthy patients? Exploring the relationships between clinician humility and patient satisfaction, trust, and health. Patient Education and Counseling. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2019.07.022

Available for download on Wednesday, September 02, 2020