Abstract: The context of health care communication in chronic illness

Patient Educ Couns. 2004 Sep;54(3):299-306. Thorne SE, Harris SR, Mahoney K, Con A, McGuinness L. University of British Columbia School of Nursing, T201-2211 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 2B5.

Patient-professional communication is a critically important element of effective chronic illness care. However, the dynamics of health care communication in supporting self-care management and effective coping with various chronic diseases is not well understood. The present study examined health care communication from the perspective of 38 patients with four distinct chronic conditions: end-stage renal disease (ESRD), non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), multiple sclerosis (MS), and fibromyalgia (FM).

Analysis revealed the dimensions of courtesy, respect, and engagement to be inherent in communication priorities across conditions. However, distinct "disease worlds" among and between these chronic conditions illuminated salient differences within these dimensions, thereby illustrating the way in which relevant variables such as legitimacy, the availability of conventional treatments, and lifestyle implications shape the meaning of health care communication.

The findings enlarge upon patient-centered approaches to health care communication and inform further analysis of the interactional dynamics associated with chronic conditions. PMID: 15324981 [PubMed – in process]

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