Document Type





This paper was prepared for Honors 200, or Rhetoric, taught by Professor Faye Prichard.

Submission Date

July 2017


Communication in the in-patient environment is crucial, and the relationship between a patient and physician can enhance patient health and improve overall wellness. Patients need to feel confident with their abilities in order to feel comfortable conversing with physicians, which would thus improve health and treat symptoms more effectively. This communication has decreased over time, hence patients are often are unable to obtain medical information from their healthcare providers. Are there psychological factors involved in a patient’s inability to communicate with a physician? What is the relationship between self-esteem and quality of patient-physician communication? In addition, what can physicians do to ensure increased patient comfort in the medical environment? Various factors can affect the patient’s comfort with the physician, and when addressed, these factors can help improve patient-physician communication. For this paper, articles were analyzed that explored the effects of language barriers on patient-physician communication, and these articles showed that the patient can feel intimidated and later inadequate when forced to be dependent on others to voice his concerns. Articles that showed the role of social support in the medical environment were also analyzed and these showed that a sense of belonging in one’s family or community help a patient find the encouragement needed to help cope with his medical concerns. Lastly, articles were analyzed that connect the role of increased time online to communication. While the patient can be increasingly independent because of the Internet, a large use of such technology decreases patient-physician communication. This also puts the patient at risk of misinformation as he may expose himself to false information and incorrectly treat symptoms. All of these aspects lead to a disparity in self-esteem that decreases the patient’s comfort with the physician. As the patient feels unable to voice his concerns properly to the healthcare provider, the physician needs to take more responsibility in this situation as he has the ability to create a comforting environment for the patient. Physicians need to take a more active role in patients’ lives and provide more resources to communicate their concerns effectively. This will help patients feel a sense of security and comfort in the medical environment, and this change will thus enable patients to work alongside their physicians in managing their health to allow improvement of communication as well as overall patient health.


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