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Relational Dialectics Theory

  • By: Julie E. Volkman
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

The relational dialectics theory by Leslie Baxter and Barbara Montgomery stems from a body of research within interpersonal communication examining the closeness of relationships or groups, and how the natural competing tensions and desires in a relationship or group can cause them to be ever-changing. For health communication scholars and practitioners interested in understanding how health can influence the communication in a relationship, or how communication about health can manifest itself in a relationship, this theory offers a way to understand how individuals within a relationship or group (e.g., couple or family) may communicate about health issues with each other, as well as communicate a health issue to individuals such as friends, coworkers, and various others.

This theory (based upon the dialectical perspective) suggests that communication ...

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