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Families, Communication with

  • By: Allison M. Scott & Anna M. Kerr
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

A great deal of communication research has focused on interaction between patients and their health care providers. However, in many cases medical encounters also involve a patient's family members, often because families share in the physical, psychological, and relational demands of a patient's care, helping the patient adhere to treatment regimens, make sense of the illness, adjust to altered relational roles, and absorb the financial implications of the illness. For this reason, communicating with patients' families is a critical aspect of providing quality health care.

One of the primary reasons providers interact with families of patients is to collaborate in the process of making decisions about a patient's health care. When patients are able to care for themselves and to make informed decisions (which involves processing ...

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