Document Detail

Does the presence of psychological distress in patients influence their choice of sitting position in face-to-face consultation with the GP?
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  16414918     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Evidence exists that when a person is required to position him/herself to the right or left of another during a face-to-face encounter, the orientation chosen is influenced by the biases of visual attention. It is also known that such attentive biases may be disturbed in states of anxiety and depression. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether an association could be found between the presence of psychological distress in patients and their choice of lateral orientation relative to the doctor during face-to-face consultations. Patients routinely attending their GP (the author) were obliged to choose to sit either to the right or left for the face-on encounter. They then completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale questionnaire (HADS), its two subscales (0-21) measuring symptoms of anxiety and depression reported by patients. "Cases" of anxiety and/or depression were identified as those patients who scored > 8 on either or both subscales. Of the 756 patients studied, case status was significantly associated with seating preference (p = .001): 234 (58%) cases sitting on the left versus 107 (30%) non-cases. Handedness was not directly associated with seating preference, but did modify the case status-seating preference association. Thus among right-handers 213 (59%) cases sat on the left versus 85 (27%) non-cases, giving an odds ratio (sitting on the left) for cases versus non-cases of 4.0. For left-handers the odds ratio (sitting left) for cases versus non-cases was 0.54, although the small number of left-handers precluded statistical significance being achieved in this group. These results support the notion that orienting behaviour is influenced by biases of visual attention linked to handedness and that attentive biases may be disturbed in states of anxiety and depression.
Peter Luck
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Laterality     Volume:  11     ISSN:  1357-650X     ISO Abbreviation:  Laterality     Publication Date:  2006 Jan 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2006-01-17     Completed Date:  2006-07-03     Revised Date:  2007-11-15    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  9609064     Medline TA:  Laterality     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  90-100     Citation Subset:  IM    
Christmas Maltings Surgery, Haverhill, UK.
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MeSH Terms
Anxiety / complications,  psychology
Choice Behavior*
Depression / complications,  psychology
Family Practice
Functional Laterality*
Middle Aged
Odds Ratio
Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
Physician-Patient Relations*
Referral and Consultation*
Statistics as Topic
Stress, Psychological / complications*

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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