Date of Award

Spring 2018

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Honors Bachelor of Arts




Dr. Alice Davidson

Committee Member

Dr. Kassandra Riley

Committee Member

Dr. Stacey Dunn


The present study examined three dimensions of physician characteristics and behaviors (knowledge, communication, and compassion) to better understand how patients perceive physicians and overall quality of care. This mixed-methods approach utilized both close- and open-ended survey questions to assess participants’ relationship with their physicians. In addition, participants wrote stories to describe best and worst experiences with physicians. Giving participants the opportunity to write stories in their own words allowed for a more nuanced understanding of the complexity of patients’ experiences, physician characteristics, and perceptions of overall quality of care. Results indicated that patients perceive physicians who are good communicators as compassionate and knowledgeable, as well. Patients who believed physicians were good communicators, compassionate, and knowledgeable also reported that they received high quality of care from their physicians. Additionally, results suggest that perception of overall quality of care can be explained by a combination of knowledge, communication, and compassion. These findings are applicable to practicing and student physicians who may benefit from understanding factors that influence patients’ perceptions of physicians and care to provide a higher quality and standard of care to patients.

Rights Holder

Megan Rouse