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Explaining Illness, Need for

  • By: Anne M. Stone
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Researchers have argued that it is important to understand the need for illness explanations before focusing on the process of explaining illness. Numerous studies across illness contexts and types of health care providers note that explaining illness is an important part of health interactions. The dearth of explanations reported by most patients is particularly troubling. Evidence suggests that medical professionals underestimate patients' and family members' need for information and often overestimate their own ability to communicate illness explanations.

The need for explaining illness is also evident in research that demonstrates the positive implications for patients who receive adequate explanations. Scholars suggest that patients are more likely to adhere to treatment recommendations, recover more quickly after surgery, and are generally healthier. When health professionals do explain illness ...

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