Terror Management Theory in Dermatology: Skin Biopsy Influences Patient Compliance
Jae Hwan Kim, Joonhwan Kim, You-Hee Jung, Youjae Yi, Hyo Hyun Ahn
A skin biopsy is one of the most frequently performed procedures in the dermatology outpatient clinic, but doctors often do not consider the cognitive impact of the biopsy procedure. Based on “terror management theory,” we reasoned that a skin biopsy increases patient compliance by unconsciously stimulating mortality salience. To study this hypothesis, trust toward doctors, authoritarian personality, mood, attitude toward recommendations, and intention to accept recommendations were compared between skin biopsy and non-skin biopsy groups of patients. Eighty-three patients participated in the study, and 78 responses were used for the analysis. The results showed that patients who had a skin biopsy had a more positive attitude toward doctors’ recommendations and a higher intention to follow the recommendations. These effects were not moderated by the patient’s own personality (patient trust and authoritarian personality). The outcome of this study implies that performing a procedure itself can subliminally influence a patient’s attitude toward a doctor’s recommendations.