Effects of a brief psychosocial intervention on inpatient satisfaction: An RCT

Pace, E. J., Somerville, N. J., Enyioha, C., Allen, J. P., Lemon, L. C., & Allen, C. W. (2017). Effects of a brief psychosocial intervention on inpatient satisfaction: An RCT. Family Medicine, 49(9), 675–678.


Results of an RCT examining the effects of a brief psychosocial intervention on inpatient satisfaction

Background and Objectives

Increasing attention is being paid to patients’ experience of hospitalization. The brief psychosocial intervention, BATHE, is an intervention found to improve patients’ outpatient experience but not yet studied in inpatient settings. This RCT examined whether daily administration of BATHE would improve patients’ satisfaction with their hospital experience.


BATHE is a brief psychosocial intervention designed to reduce distress and strengthen the physician-patient relationship. In February-March 2015 and February-March 2016, 25 patients admitted to the University of Virginia Family Medicine inpatient service were randomized to usual care or to the BATHE intervention. Participants completed a baseline measure of satisfaction at enrollment. Those in the intervention group received the BATHE intervention daily for five days or until discharge. At completion, participants completed a patient satisfaction measure.


Daily administration of BATHE had strong effects on patients’ likelihood of endorsing their medical care as “excellent.” BATHE did not improve satisfaction by making patients feel more respected, informed or attended to. Rather, effects on satisfaction were mediated by patients’ perception that their physician showed “a genuine interest in me as a person.”


Our study suggests that patients are more satisfied with their hospitalization experience when physicians take a daily moment to check in with the patient “as a person” and not just as a medical patient. The brevity of the BATHE intervention indicates that this check-in need not be lengthy or overly burdensome for the already busy inpatient physician.

Keywords: hospitalization, patient satisfaction, physician patient relationship

Last updated on 02/21/2021