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Korean J Med Educ > Volume 21(2); 2009 > Article
Korean Journal of Medical Education 2009;21(2): 163-173. doi: https://doi.org/10.3946/kjme.2009.21.2.163
What Do the Patients Want to be Called during Medical Encounters?
Su Hyun Kim1, Young-Mee Lee2
1Department of Family Medicine, Korea University Ansan Hospital, Korea University College of Medicine, Ansan, Korea.
2Department of Medical Education, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Corresponding Author: Young-Mee Lee, Tel: 02-920-6098, Fax: 02-928-1647, Email: ymleehj@korea.ac.kr
Received: December 19, 2008;  Accepted: April 15, 2009.
PURPOSE: The aims of this study were to explore the terms that patients preferred to be called during medical encounters and to provide a guideline about the proper use of appellations about patients in teaching medical students. METHODS: Patients were asked to select items from given examples to indicate how they wanted to be addressed by their doctors and how their doctors tended to address them. These terms were categorized into 3 groups; 1) terms that includes name, 2) "patient+honorific suffix, boon (hwanja- boon)", and 3) other general terms. The survey also included questions on patient's perception of the importance of terms of address in building a good doctor-patient relationship. The questionnaire was distributed to 440 out-patients of the three university affiliated hospitals in Seoul and Gyeonggi province from August to September 2007. RESULTS: Three hundred ninety-two respondents were analyzed after excluding 58 respondents who did not meet the study criteria. The ages of the respondents ranged from 18 to 80 years, and 56% of them were male. Most patients preferred to be called by the terms that includes their name (284, 72.4%) and the most preferred term was "family name (FN)+given name (GN)+honorific suffix, nim" (156, 39.8%), while doctors used the terms "patient+honorific suffix, boon" (188, 48.0%) most frequently. About 59% of respondents were addressed as they preferred. Patients in their 30s and 40s showed significantly higher perceptions of the importance of terms of address than other age groups (p= 0.0007). CONCLUSION: Patients preferred to be called by their full name with an honorific suffix; however, patients' preferences and doctors' usage were not in agreement in many cases. The results of this study suggest that doctors should pay more attention to the proper use of appellation during medical encounters. Furthermore, these results can be used to teach undergraduate medical students and guide physicians on how to address patients in practice.
Keywords: Communication;Physician-patient relations;Terms of address
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