Provider–Patient Interaction and Related Outcomes
One of the many reasons that the study of health communication is inherently fascinating is the real-world, bottom-line impact that we as scholars who study the interrelationships between health and communicative processes are privileged to examine in our work. None of the areas of health communication are more important than the interrelationship between provider and patient interaction and its various outcomes. It is crucial to understand that we study interaction between health care providers and patients not just out of an esoteric interest in the topic, but because it both impacts and is impacted by such variables as satisfaction, adherence, quality of life/health outcomes, and malpractice suits. Our focus in this chapter is to both survey this body of literature and to discuss the inherent limitations in such a survey. Although there are, indeed, links between outcomes and provider-patient interactions, there are also limitations to predicting outcomes from analyzing interactions. We then explore the nature of patient-centered and relationship-centered care, and move on to discuss explanatory frameworks to help the reader understand why links to outcomes do or do not exist. This discussion leads to a consideration of such issues as obstacles to care, knowledge-understanding considerations, decision-making processes, social systems, disclosure, emotions-bias, and communication interventions.