How Chronic Pain Patients’ and Physicians’ Communication Influences Patients’ Uncertainty: A Pre- and Post-Consultation Study

Charee M. Thompson, Manuel D. Pulido, Suma Gangidi, Paul M Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Chronic pain is a health problem that is difficult to diagnose, treat, and manage, partly owing to uncertainty surrounding ambiguous causes, few treatment options, and frequent misunderstandings in clinical encounters. Pairing uncertainty management theory with medical communication competence, we predicted that both physicians and patients are influential to patients’ uncertainty appraisals and uncertainty management. We collected pre- and post-consultation data from 200 patients with chronic neck and spine/back pain and their physicians. Patients’ reports of their physician’s communication were a consistent predictor of their post-consultation uncertainty outcomes. Physicians’ reports of both their own and patients’ communication competence were associated with patients’ positive uncertainty appraisals. Physicians’ reports of patients’ communication competence were also associated with reductions in patients’ uncertainty. Findings illustrate how both interactants’ perceptions of communication competence—how they view their own (for physicians) and the other’s—are associated with patients’ post-consultation outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-370
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Volume29
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Library and Information Sciences

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