Handbook of Health Communication

By Teresa L. Thompson; Alicia M. Dorsey et al. | Go to book overview

9
Children, Older Adults,
and Women: Impact on
Provider-Patient Interaction
Jon F. Nussbaum
Penn State University
Sandra Ragan
University of Oklahoma
Bryan Whaley
University of San Francisco

This chapter introduces three underrepresented populations within health communication research. Both the health issues and the communication factors that are related to patients who are children, elderly, or women have not been the focus of much scholarly activity until quite recently. Many of the major health communication issues that are faced by these individuals on a daily basis are unique and can create complex interactive dilemmas for both the person who is seeking help and those professionals who are attempting to provide quality care.


PROVIDER INTERACTIONS WITH PEDIATRIC PATIENTS

Effective provider-patient interaction, regardless of how defined, is formidable under the best of communicative conditions. This venture becomes particularly challenging when the patients are children. Pediatric patients' lack of illness knowledge and life experiences as well as their ever-changing cognitive and linguistic development make message production tailored for illness interaction extremely ambitious. As arduous a process as interacting with children about illness appears to be, this discourse is claimed an essential component of their health-related experience. For instance, children's understanding of illness and the medical setting is thought to be primary to their adherence to medical regimens and advice, self-management, and stress reduction (e.g., Burbach & Peterson, 1986; Eiser, 1985a, b, c; Eiser & Eiser, 1987; Potter & Roberts, 1984). Dorn (1984) posits the importance of this phenomenon: “how effectively one communicates can affect children's reactions to procedures, compliance with therapy, and knowledge about health and illness. … How one

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