Doctor Attributes That Patients Desire during Consultation: The Perspectives of Doctors and Patients in Primary Health Care in Botswana

Vincent Setlhare, Sphiwe Madiba*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Doctor attributes contribute significantly to the quality of the doctor–patient relationship, consultation, patient satisfaction, and treatment outcomes. However, there is a paucity of research on this topic in many settings in developing countries, including Botswana, where accessibility and availability of care itself are a challenge. The study examined doctor attributes that patients in Botswana desire from the perspectives of doctors and patients in selected public clinics located in four health districts of Botswana. We used a qualitative design and conducted face-to-face interviews with 32 adult patients and 17 doctors selected through the purposive sampling technique. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. Data analysis followed the six steps of qualitative thematic data analysis. We found both discordance and congruence between the doctors and patients on key attributes that patients desire in a doctor during consultation. Both agreed that effective communication and listening skills were key desirable doctor attributes that improve the doctor–patient relationship. Conducting the consultation in the language of the patients enhances effective communication. Doctors cited clinical expertise and competence as key desirable doctor attributes, whereas patients cited interpersonal and social attributes including kindness, empathy, and respect as key doctor attributes that increase trust in the doctor. However, patients expected the doctor to have clinical knowledge, which they perceived as essential to improve doctor–patient interaction and health outcomes. The findings highlight a need to enhance the interpersonal and communication skills of doctors to improve the quality of doctor–patient interactions. To optimise and enhance the consultation, continuing professional development should be adopted as a strategy to improve the communication and interpersonal skills of doctors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number840
JournalHealthcare (Switzerland)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Botswana
  • communication skills
  • consultation
  • doctor attributes
  • doctor–patient relationship
  • primary health care
  • skills


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