Appraising the practice of etiquette-based medicine in the inpatient setting

Sean Tackett, Darlene Tad-Y, Rebeca Rios, Flora Kisuule, Scott Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The physician-patient relationship is at the heart of patient care. Dr. Michael Kahn proposed a checklist of six behaviors, defining "etiquette-based medicine", as a strategy to start each encounter respectfully and improve patient-physician rapport. OBJECTIVE: To assess performance of "etiquette-based medicine" in the inpatient setting. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Cross-sectional observational study using time-motion techniques between May and July, 2009. Eight hospitalists were randomly selected at each of three hospitals in the Greater Baltimore area. Each time the physician entered a patient's room, a single observer recorded whether the "etiquette-based medicine" behaviors were performed: (1) knocking or asking to enter the patient's room, (2) introducing oneself, (3) shaking the patient's hand, (4) sitting down in the patient's room, (5) explaining one's role in the patient's care, and (6) asking about the patient's feelings regarding his or her hospitalization or illness. MEASUREMENTS: The frequency with which physicians performed the six behaviors, predictors of behavior performance, and Press-Ganey performance scores. The etiquette-based medicine (EtBM) score was defined and calculated by dividing the number of observed behaviors by the number expected. RESULTS: The 24 observed hospitalists collectively saw 226 unique patients. No individual behavior was performed with a majority of patients, and, with 30 % of the patients, none of the behaviors were performed. The average EtBM score for the physicians was 22.3 % (SD 10.9 %). Physicians who spent more time with patients were more likely to perform behaviors. Sitting down (p = 0.026) and EtBM scores (p = 0.019) were associated with physician-specific Press-Ganey ratings. LIMITATIONS: Cross-sectional design does not allow for determination of causality. CONCLUSIONS: "Etiquette-based medicine" was infrequently practiced by this sample of hospitalist physicians. Improving performance of etiquette-based medicine may improve patient satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)908-913
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • etiquette-based medicine
  • hospitalists
  • professionalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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