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Logo of brjgenpracRCGP homepageJ R Coll Gen Pract at PubMed CentralBJGP at RCGPBJGP at RCGP
Br J Gen Pract. 2007 June 1; 57(539): 500–501.
PMCID: PMC2078177

Author's response

Mark Jenkins, Professor, Director of Health Services Research, Editor Statistics in Medicine

I feel the letter ‘Handshakes and spoof publications’1 does warrant a published reply.

I am pleased that my pilot study has stirred such interest and find it fascinating this includes such an extreme response. Taking each of the three points raised. Firstly, the study suggests that 1.2% of patients were very happy with their consultation and demonstrated their feelings in this way. Dr Parkes makes the classic error of judgement by comparison when no measurements or standards exist yet. The consensus from my colleagues in general practice is that they receive about one patient-initiated handshake towards the end of the consultation per week. Interestingly, and I know that this is a sensitive and emotive issue, but on enquiring into female GPs' experiences, a patient-hug (from female patients) seems to occur.

Secondly, I was informed the pilot study was not suitable for the original papers section as there was only one subject, that was myself.

Thirdly, we are in total agreement. The phenomenon needs more research in a wider context as outlined by Dr Parkes's broader questions. Of course, however, we may never know unless someone is brave enough to perform the research despite such responses!

Touch in medicine, does seem an emotive and currently a politically incorrect subject as raised and published in this journal by Dr Dougal Jeffries.2

I wonder if some doctors might even feel threatened by issues of touch between patient and doctor?


1. Parkes G. Handshakes and spoof publications. Br J Gen Pract. 2007;57:411. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
2. Jeffries D. In praise of touch. Br J Gen Pract. 2007;57:80.

Articles from The British Journal of General Practice are provided here courtesy of Royal College of General Practitioners