Health & Medicine as Social Sciences: Interactions in Medicine

Communication and Relationships in Medicine

This page explores the value of communication and positive relationships between physicians and patients in the healthcare system. Historically there have been three main relationships seen, active-passivity, guidance co-operation, and mutual participation. (Source 4) While something can be learned from each relationship style, this page will focus on the mutual participation and what implementing it into our systems of care truly looks like.

Building Successful Relationships

Sarah Krüg on the importance of connecting the Doctor's medical knowledge with the patient's experiences to build an effective Doctor-Patient relationship.

Informed Consent

Informed Consent is defined as "Agreement of permission accompanied by full notice about the care, treatment, or service, that is the subject of the consent. A patient must be apprised of the nature, risks, and alternatives of a medical procedure or treatment before the physician or other health care professional begins any such course. After receiving this information, the patient then either consents to or refuses such a procedure or treatment".  - Source 2

Obtaining informed consent is crucial to creating a trusting relationship between physicians and patients. If there is a lack of trust in the relationship, it can lead to the patient leaving out details about their life, and/or the physician not providing the correct or most beneficial treatment. 

To ensure that informed consent is being properly obtained effective communication between the physician and patient is necessary. The physician should be culturally sensitive and take a patient's knowledge regarding health literacy into consideration when obtaining consent to ensure they are fully aware of all the details regarding and possible outcomes of their treatment. - Paraphrased from Source 2

Dismantling The Power dynamic

Historically, the Healthcare system has been dominated by the 'authoritative-physician-passive patient interaction' as seen in the structure of many systems across the world. Currently, the field is adapting to reflect a more partnership style of medicine to dismantle the current power dynamic. With that there are responsibilities and competencies that fall on both patients and Healthcare Professionals. 

Patient Responsibilities:

  • Acceptance of diagnosis and limits imposed by the disease.
  • Autonomy in obtaining, processing, and understanding health information.

Healthcare Professionals Responsibilities:

  • Acknowledgement of patient experiential knowledge and competences.
  • Inclusion of patients in the therapeutic process.

Responsibilities of all:

  • Communication based on trust and respect.
  • Giving, sharing, and exchange of information.
  • Collaboration and mutual commitment.

Each of these responsibilities plays an important role in dismantling the current power dynamic seen in healthcare systems. By incorporating these in to care, we can see improved care through a more positive partnership between providers and patients.

Information from Source 1


  • Last Updated: May 21, 2024 8:25 AM
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