Turkish Journal of Medical Sciences




Background/aim: The aim of this study was to examine the reasons constituting the definition of 'difficult patient' and to evaluate attitudes and behaviors of physicians in coping with these patients and their relatives. Materials and methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted in May and June 2013 with 400 randomly selected physicians from different specialties working in two training and research hospitals in Ankara. A questionnaire was created by reviewing the relevant literature, by family medicine clinic, and delivered to the physicians following a pilot study. Results: In our study 92.8% of the physicians participating had experienced a negative contact with patients and/or their relatives, previously; 46.8% of the participants stated that they used their own experiences in coping with those situations. The frequency of negative communications was higher in surgical departments, increasing with average daily working hours and number of patients and decreasing with the experience of the physicians. The ways of coping with a difficult patient were nonjudgmental listening, patience, tolerance, and empathy, in declining order of importance. Conclusion: Physicians frequently experience negative communications with patients and/or relatives. Awareness of physicians about the concept of difficult patients and the causes and solutions should be enhanced.


Patient-physician communication, difficult patient, communication skills

First Page


Last Page