Patients prefer to sit opposite GP

Seating a patient beside their GP was once thought to improve communication during consultations, but a study conducted by New Zealand researchers, and presented by GP Dr Prakash Appanna at the GP14 conference in Adelaide last week, suggests patients actually prefer the opposite – and that the widespread use of computers in general practice has changed the equation.

Previous research had shown that seating a patient next to a doctor directed attention away from the patient and reduced eye contact, resulting in reduced opportunities to observe body language and disrupting the communication, Dr Appanna said.

“We go one step further, however, and conclude that patients find the typing of notes less disruptive if they're seated opposite the doctor,” he said.

One hundred randomly selected patients were asked to complete a feedback form on their consultation which asked them to agree or disagree with three statements: "I prefer to be