Tales of Time, Terms, and Patient Information-Seeking Behavior-An Exploratory Qualitative Study

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17 Citations (Scopus)


This study explores patients' and physicians' perceptions of the use of medical terminology in patient-physician communication. Perceptions of time emerge as an overarching theme and the relationships between perceived time pressures and medical terms are analyzed. Data for this qualitative exploratory study were collected in 28 semistructured interviews with native and nonnative English-speaking physicians and patients. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and analyzed in NVivo 8, applying principles from grounded theory. Participants commonly perceived time pressures on consultations. Findings indicate that together, perceived time pressures and medical terminology influence patient participation and the development of rapport in medical encounters. Patient information-seeking behavior was reported to be lower in short, terminology-dense consultations and increased in longer, terminology-sparse consultations. Data suggest that monitoring the use of medical terms in combination with taking time to provide appropriate explanations can function as a partnership-building strategy. Physicians who adopt this strategy could foster better patient-physician relationships and facilitate increased patient information-seeking behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)682-689
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


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