Wednesday, June 27, 2007

New Frontiers in Social Science

In a study of total self absorption, social scientists study the reactions of members of the research team.

"a study that showed that many doctors waste patients’ time and lose their focus in office visits by interjecting irrelevant information about themselves."

One might imagine (as the research team did) that it is good for doctors to say a little bit about themselves as it builds rapport by putting them on a more equal footing with patients. They were surprised and dismayed to find no benefits to patients of time spent talking about the doctor

The researchers studied the conversations looking for any hint that patients were helped when the doctors talked about themselves.

“We looked for any statement of comfort, any statement of appreciation, any deepening of the conversation,” Dr. Beckman said.


So the important discovery seems to concern the reactions of the patients. Very interesting except they weren't real patients

Their paper, published yesterday in The Archives of Internal Medicine, involved 100 primary-care doctors in the Rochester area. As part of a study on patient care and outcomes, the doctors agreed to allow two people trained to act as patients come to their offices sometime over the course of a year. The test patients would surreptitiously make an audio recording of the encounter. The investigators analyzed recordings of 113 of those office visits, excluding situations when the doctors figured out that the patient was fake.


They got a publication by studying the behavior of actors who were part of the research team ? Researchers are supposed to study the experimental subject not the experimenters. Thi icing on the cake is that the research team then went on to accuse the doctors of being self absorbed.

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