Date of Defense




First Advisor

Dr. Peter G. Northouse

Second Advisor

Erika Carr


In recent years, much attention has been given to the doctor-patient relationship. There has been a shift away from the historically paternalistic approach assumed by the medical field. Healthcare consumers have begun to cast aside the assumption that the physician knows best and have come to hold different expectations than they once had. At the same time, physicians have come to understand that their patients are expressing desires for more personal care and an active role in their own treatment. Simultaneously, such pressures as managed care groups and an abundance of lawsuits are constraining healthcare providers in what they are allowed to do. Regardless, both healthcare providers and consumers have looked at the dynamics of the doctor-patient relationship as it is, and as it should be, with the shared hope of improving the current standards of healthcare. Central to the doctor-patient relationship is an understanding of doctor-patient communication, which has been addressed by researchers in the medical and social science fields in a variety of ways. This research compares and contrasts the approaches to doctor-patient communication taken by the medical and social science fields by analyzing selected bodies of research from both fields. Implications are drawn for how differences between the medical and social science literature may influence our understanding of effective doctor-patient communication.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only