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Doctor–Patient Communication

  • By: Gretchen Norling Holmes & Nancy Grant Harrington
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Doctor–patient communication is one of the most researched areas in the health communication field. It focuses on how doctors and patients talk to one another, using verbal and nonverbal communication, usually in the context of the medical office visit. This entry explores doctor–patient communication, beginning with a brief review of some foundational concepts; then addressing influences such as individual differences, contextual factors, and language and emotion; and finally reviewing outcomes such as patient satisfaction, adherence, and health status.

Foundational Concepts

Doctor–patient communication serves multiple goals during a medical visit. First, participants must exchange accurate information to allow for diagnosis; this exchange involves giving information, seeking information, and verifying information. Typically, doctors ask the most questions and patients give the most answers. Second, participants need to develop rapport. ...

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