What Does Patient-Centered Communication Look Like? Linguistic Markers of Provider Compassionate Care and Shared Decision-Making and Their Impacts on Patient Outcomes

Yanmengqian Zhou, Michelle L. Acevedo Callejas, Yuwei Li, Erina L. MacGeorge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Patient-centered communication promotes positive patient outcomes. This study examines the linguistic markers of two key dimensions of patient-centered communication (i.e., provider compassionate care and shared decision-making) and their mediating effects on patient perceived quality of and affective responses to the provider’s treatment recommendations. Transcripts (N = 343) of provider talk from provider-patient interactions in medical visits for upper respiratory infection symptoms where patients were not prescribed with antibiotics were analyzed with the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) dictionary. Results showed that providers’ use of affiliation words positively predicted patients’ perceptions of their providers’ compassionate care. Providers’ use of insight words negatively predicted patients’ perceptions of provider shared decision-making. Meanwhile, providers’ use of first-person singular pronouns, causation and differentiation words, and clout words were positively related to perceived provider shared decision-making. Patient perceived compassionate care and shared decision-making further increased patients’ positive affect toward and perceived quality of non-antibiotic treatment recommendations. These perceptions also reduced their negative affect toward the recommendations. Implications of the findings are discussed with regard to patient-centered communication in relation to the promotion of antibiotic stewardship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHealth Communication
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication

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