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What is clinician presence? A qualitative interview study comparing physician and non-physician insights about practices of human connection.

OBJECTIVE: We sought to investigate the concept and practices of ‘clinician presence’, exploring how physicians and professionals create connection, engage in interpersonal interaction, and build trust with individuals across different circumstances and contexts. n DESIGN: In 2017-2018, we conducted qualitative semistructured interviews with 10 physicians and 30 non-medical professionals from the fields of protective services, business, management, education, art/design/entertainment, social services, and legal/personal services. n SETTING: Physicians were recruited from primary care clinics in an academic medical centre, a Veterans Affairs clinic, and a federally qualified health centre. n PARTICIPANTS: Participants were 55% men and 45% women; 40% were non-white. n RESULTS: Qualitative analyses yielded a definition of presence as n CONCLUSIONS: Clinician presence involves learning to step back, pause, and be prepared to receive a patient’s story. Building on strategies from physicians and non-medical professionals, clinician presence is best enacted through purposeful intention to connect, conscious navigation of time, and proactive management of technology and the environment to focus attention on the patient. Everyday practice or ritual supporting these strategies could support physician self-care as well as physician-patient connection.

Authors: Brown-Johnson, Cati;Schwartz, Rachel;Maitra, Amrapali;Haverfield, Marie C;Tierney, Aaron;Shaw, Jonathan G;Zionts, Dani L;Safaeinili, Nadia;Thadaney Israni, Sonoo;Verghese, Abraham;Zulman, Donna M

BMJ Open. 2019 Nov 03;9(11):e030831. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-030831..

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