Nonverbal synchrony as a behavioural marker of patient and physician race-related attitudes and a predictor of outcomes in oncology interactions: protocol for a secondary analysis of video-recorded cancer treatment discussions.

Research paper by Lauren M LM Hamel, Robert R Moulder, Terrance L TL Albrecht, Steven S Boker, Susan S Eggly, Louis A LA Penner

Indexed on: 07 Dec '18Published on: 07 Dec '18Published in: BMJ open


Racial disparities in cancer treatment contribute to racial disparities in mortality rates. The quality of patient-physician communication during clinical interactions with black patients and non-black physicians (racially discordant) is poorer than communication quality with white patients (racially concordant). Patient and physician race-related attitudes affect the quality of this communication. These attitudes are likely expressed through subtle non-verbal behaviours, but prior research has not examined these behaviours. Nonverbal synchrony, the coordination of physical movement, reflects the preinteraction attitudes of participants in interactions and predicts their postinteraction perceptions of and affect towards one another. In this study, peer reviewed and funded by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (R21MD011766), we will investigate non-verbal synchrony in racially concordant and discordant interactions to better understand racial disparities in clinical communication. This secondary analysis includes racially concordant (n=163) and racially discordant (n=68) video-recorded oncology interactions, patient and oncologist self-reported race-related attitudes, perceptions of the interaction and observer ratings of physician patient-centred communication and patient and physician affect and rapport. In aim 1, we will assess and compare non-verbal synchrony between physicians and patients in racially concordant and discordant interactions. In aim 2, we will determine the influence of non-verbal synchrony on patient and physician affect and communication. In aim 3, we will examine possible causes (ie, race-related attitudes) and consequences (ie, negative perceptions) of non-verbal synchrony in racially discordant interactions. In aim 4, we will develop and test a mediational model linking physician and patient race-related attitudes to non-verbal synchrony and, in turn, interaction outcomes. The parent and current studies were approved by the Wayne State University Institutional Review Board. Since only archival data will be used, ethical or safety risks are low. We will disseminate our findings to relevant conferences and journals. © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2018. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.