Pediatric Consultations: Negative-Word Use and Parent Satisfaction



This study investigates the impact of pediatricians’ negative-word use on parents’ affective quality and satisfaction judgements during the medical encounter.


In total, 68 medical consultations were videotaped and pediatricians’ communication transcribed for analysis. We used the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count application to measure the amount of negative words used by the pediatrician. Parents rated their momentary mood as well as their satisfaction at the end of the encounter.


Pediatricians’ negative-word use was negatively linked to parents’ affect quality, but not with the satisfaction ratings after the medical visit. Although there was no direct effect, our results revealed an indirect effect of pediatricians’ negative-word use on parents’ satisfaction via parents’ mood.


The results point to the negative impact that words used during the medical encounter can have on individuals in need of care. Consequently, this is relevant for clinical training and practice.