COMMENTARY

The 'A' Word: Are Doctors Arrogant?

Leslie Kane

Disclosures

June 17, 2014

In This Article

Good Doctors Have Some Bad Moments

Doctors' personalities have become a hot topic, not only because warmth and pleasantness count toward patient satisfaction, but also because positive patient interactions have a role in better outcomes.

Physicians' personalities are under the microscope as patients post reviews of doctors on numerous Websites. In some reviews, the word "arrogant" has shown up. But calling doctors arrogant is nothing new.

Are there really so many arrogant doctors? No doubt, some physicians deserve the label, but it seems to be a stereotype that has blossomed and taken on its own life.

"Arrogance among doctors is not the norm", says Marion Stuart, PhD, co-author of The 15 Minute Hour: Therapeutic Talk in Primary Care, and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Family Medicine at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. "Someone who has done the hard work and has gone into medicine because they care about people, and are interested in helping peoples' lives and making the world a better place, is not going to be arrogant."

So how did the arrogant doctor epithet arise?

In the past, doctors were considered authorities who told compliant patients what to do and treated them with a paternalistic attitude. Some doctors may retain those behaviors today.

Another possibility is overgeneralizing. A patient sees a doctor who has a difficult personality and assumes that the trait is more widespread within the profession than it really is.

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