General practice, Symptoms of fatigue, Doctor–patient communication, Gender communication, Health perception, Patient expectations
The aim of this study has been to obtain more insight into the health condition of fatigued patients, their expectations when visiting the general practitioner (GP), the way they communicate, and possible gender differences. Data consisted of 579 patient questionnaires and 440 video-observations of these patients and 31 GPs. Results showed that fatigue is a common health problem but seldom on the agenda in general practice. More women indicated symptoms of fatigue than men did. Fatigued patients’ health was worse than that of non-fatigued patients, and
they expected more biomedical and especially psychosocial communication. Furthermore, male fatigued patients expected more biomedical communication than fatigued female patients did. While the GPs accommodated their verbal behavior to fatigued patients by giving more
psychosocial information and more counseling, they were not more affective towards the fatigued than towards the non-fatigued patients.
Female GPs were more affective than their male colleagues, and they used gender-specific communication strategies to explore the patient’s agenda. It seems necessary to use a gender-sensitive approach in communication research.