How Patients Perceive Their Doctors’ Communication: Implications for Patient Willingness to Communicate

Susan C. Baker, Bernadette Maria Watson

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


By emphasizing the value of health professionals’ communication skills in creating positive health care experiences, researchers have tended to study health communication as an interpersonal encounter. Interactions in the health context, though, are inherently intergroup. Using the language and social psychology approach, this study emphasizes those intergroup features of health communication. We used mixed methods and applied communication accommodation theory and the willingness to communicate construct to the health context. Participants in Canada and Australia (N = 371) were asked about their perceptions of their health consultations. Multiple regression analyses revealed that health communication competence was the best predictor of patient willingness to communicate. Differences between patients’ accounts of positive and negative health care experiences were clearly differentiated by their perceptions of the health professionals’ communication strategies. The potential effects of these strategies on patient participation are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-639
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • communication accommodation strategies
  • intergroup communication
  • willingness to communicate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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