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What’s in a smile? A review of the benefits of the clinician’s smile
  1. Andrew James Beamish1,2,3,
  2. Jessica Jane Foster4,
  3. Harry Edwards5,
  4. Torsten Olbers2
  1. 1 Research Department, Royal College of Surgeons of England, London, UK
  2. 2 Department of GastroSurgical Research and Education, Sahlgrenska universitetssjukhuset, Goteborg, Sweden
  3. 3 Department of General Surgery, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, Wales, UK
  4. 4 Department of Mental Health, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, Newport, Gwent, UK
  5. 5 Department of Primary Care, Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, Exeter, UK
  1. Correspondence to Andrew James Beamish, Research Department, Royal College of Surgeons of England, London WC2A 3PE, UK; beamishaj{at}


For millennia, the smile has been recognised as a powerful communication device, offering benefits to both giver and receiver with few drawbacks. A sign of compassion, empathy and friendliness, smiling can benefit healthcare professionals and their patients, helping to build a relationship of trust. But beware the false smile, which is all too easily identified and may do more harm than good. In this review, we explore the literature surrounding smiling in healthcare and beyond, discussing the many reasons to be cheerful, from good health to a happy marriage, among aviators, table waiters, doctors, dentists and even dogs.

  • smile
  • communication
  • healthcare
  • affect
  • happiness

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  • Contributors AJB conceived the project. All authors searched the literatureand contributed to the acquisition of data, interpreted the data acquired and together drafted the manuscript. All authors approved the final version and are accountable for its content.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.