Narrator: This is Science Today. In studies of doctor-patient communication, University of California, Riverside psychologists have used audio technology that can filter out speech and focus instead on voice tone. Robin DiMatteo, a leading researcher of doctor-patient communication, says they use a method called rating in which scales are developed that allow for assessment by individuals listening to voice tone cues.
DiMatteo: How positive or negative is it? How active or passive is the doctor or the patient? How submissive or dominant?
Narrator: In one of their studies, the researchers found that a doctor's voice tones are quite different with patients of different socioeconomic status.
DiMatteo: One of the goals of this research is to identify possible, what we call micro-inequities in communication, such that with lower income patients and possibly even with patients who are ethnic minority, that it may be that they're just getting a different pattern of communication. We're in the process now of trying to determine what implications that has.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.