Journal of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine 2016. 9(1):.

From good to great physician: a critical ethnography based on patients' views
Ahmad Kalateh Sadati, Mohammad Taghi Iman, Kamran Bagheri Lankarani, Najmeh Ebrahimzadeh


The doctor-patient interaction (DPI) plays an important role in the way patients view physicians. Thus, response to the question of ''Who is a great physician?'' is related to DPI experiences of patients. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore patients' views regarding this subject. Based on critical ethnography in one educational hospital in Shiraz, Iran, the study was performed based on 156 clinical consultations, 920 hours of participant observations, and 6 focus groups with patients and their relatives. The results revealed that asymmetrical power relationships exist in this context. Based on the general views of participants and their recent DPI experiences, a great physician should be kind, empathetic, friendly, and a good listener. Considering the presence of an asymmetrical power relationships in this context, results showed that doctors do not participate in an active interaction. Based on sociological theories, it can be concluded that the concept of a great physician is not only limited to obligations as in the Parsonian view, but is also related to active communication between both sides which is presented in the critical view. Through active communication‎, asymmetrical power relationships can be reduced. Thus, if a physician wants to become a great physician, he/she must strengthen his/her humanistic dimensions and communicative skills alongside his/her medical skills.


Doctor-patient interaction, Empathy, Great physician

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