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Simplest Way to Boost Patient Satisfaction? You Might Want to Sit Down for This…

January 22, 2024

Written by Rebecca White

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Chair placement near the bedside is a simple intervention that increased the likelihood of physician sitting during patient encounters and yielded higher patient scores in satisfaction and communication.

Please be seated…
Sitting at bedside has been associated with improved physician communication, patient satisfaction, and trust. However, it can be challenging due to logistical constraints.

In this single-center, double-blind, randomized controlled deception trial, 51 hospitalists were observed in 125 patient encounters. Encounters were randomized to either chair placement (within 3 feet of bedside) (n = 60) or usual chair location (n = 65). Patient satisfaction was measured with the Tool to Assess Inpatient Satisfaction with Care from Hospitalists (TAISCH) and the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS).

Physicians in the chair placement group sat more often (63.3%) than the control group (7.7%): OR 20.7 (95%CI 7.2-59.4, P<0.001). The intervention was associated with greater patient satisfaction on TAISCH., effect estimate 3.9 (95%CI 0.9 to 7.0, P=0.01) and HCAHPS, OR 5.1 (95%CI 1.06 to 24.9, P=0.04). Chair placement had no effect on time spent in the room (10.6 minutes in both groups, P=0.96), nor on perception of time in the room for physicians (9.4 minutes versus control 9.8 minutes, P=0.60) or patients (13.1 minutes versus 13.5 minutes, P=0.74).

How will this change my practice?
We don’t often have control over chair location for patient encounters (or heck, if we can even find a chair…). If workflow allows, I plan to place a chair at bedside so I (and other physicians entering the room) are more likely to sit during patient encounters.

Editor’s note: “Usual chair location” was inside a cabinet. Perhaps the chair doesn’t need to be at bedside to increase how often physicians sit, just not hidden away. ~Nick Zelt

Effect of chair placement on physicians’ behavior and patients’ satisfaction: randomized deception trialBMJ. 2023;383:e076309. Published 2023 Dec 15. doi:10.1136/bmj-2023-076309.

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