Physicians' Communicative Strategies in Interacting With Internet-Informed Patients: Results From a Qualitative Study

Maria Caiata-Zufferey, Peter J. Schulz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article describes the strategies used by physicians to interact with Internet-informed patients, alongside illustrating the motives underlying such strategies. Semistructured interviews were conducted with a sample of 17 physicians from primary care and medical specialist practices in the Italian part of Switzerland. The sample was diversified in terms of specialty, age, and gender. Data collection and analysis were driven by grounded theory and supported by a computer-assisted qualitative analysis program. A typology of four communicative strategies has been outlined. The adoption of these strategies is shaped by physicians' general attitude toward Internet-informed patients, based on their conception of medical information for lay people through the Internet. However, this general attitude is mediated by doctors' interpretation of the specific communicative context, that is, their appraisal of three aspects: the patient's health literacy, the relevance of the online information to be discussed, and their own communicative efficacy. At the end, the process of interpretation underlying the strategies is discussed to expand on it and to identify implications for practice and research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)738-749
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Communication
Volume27
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2012

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