The association of how time is spent during outpatient visits and patient satisfaction: Are there racial differences?

Sonja Harris-Haywood, Sarah N. Sylvia-Bobiak, Kurt C. Stange, Susan A. Flocke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Both satisfaction with the physician and how time is spent in the patient-physician outpatient visit have been shown to differ between African-American and Caucasian patients. This study uses structural equation modeling to examine racial differences in the association between time use during the outpatient visit and patient satisfaction. This cross-sectional study employed direct observation of outpatient visits and surveys of 2,502 adult African-American and Caucasian outpatients visiting 138 primary care physicians in 84 family practices in Northeast Ohio. Patient satisfaction was measured using the Medical Outcome Study (MOS) nine-item Visit Rating Scale. Time use was assessed with the Davis Observation Code, which was used to classify every 20 seconds of a visit into 20 behavioral categories. No difference was found between African-American and Caucasian patients in the association between patient satisfaction with a physician and the time the physician spent chatting, planning treatment, providing health education, structuring the interaction, assessing health knowledge or answering patient questions. Patients were generally satisfied with their physicians, and no racial differences between Caucasians and African Americans were observed. Despite racial differences in how physicians spend time in the outpatient visit encounter, these differences are not associated with racial differences in patient satisfaction. Efforts to understand disparities in satisfaction should address areas other than how physicians allocate time in the physician-patient encounter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1061-1065
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the National Medical Association
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Health disparities
  • Patient-physician relationship
  • Physician satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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