Little is known about the frequency and occurrence of patients' negative emotional cues and concerns (NECC) across specialties in hospital departments.
Ninety-six consultations were videotaped in a general hospital. The VR-CoDES (Verona Coding Definitions of Emotional Sequences) were used to code the patients' NECC. Cohen's kappa was used to establish reliability between coders.
Cohen's kappa was above 0.60. NECC were observed in more than half of the consultations. The number of NECC in the consultations was 163, with 109 negative emotional cues and 54 concerns. The mean number of NECC in the consultations was 1.69, with a median of 1. The first NECC in consultations were stated after a median duration of 5min 21s. We could not find significant differences related to the gender and age of the patient or the physician, or the specialty of the physician.
More than half of the concerns were not preceded by a negative emotional cue. Few consultations contained more than 3 NECC, and NECC tended to be expressed relatively early.
Patients' expressions of emotional issues are few, and most of them are subtle. Physicians should be thoroughly trained to identify and respond to them.