The symbolic and material nature of physician identity: implications for physician-patient communication.

Kevin Real, Rachel Bramson, Marshall Scott Poole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This field study considers the implications of the symbolic and material nature of physician identity for communication with patients. In-depth interviews of physicians across multiple organizational contexts reveal that physician identity is a discursive process of situated meaning in which particular configurations of beliefs, values, and actions are constructed within specific contexts. The content of individual physician identity was related to the general environment of medicine and its local medical context. The identities of physicians working in private practice were linked to the economic, legal, and social environment of medicine, whereas physicians working as employees had identities related to working in a setting that buffered the effects of the environment. Specific implications of the symbolic and material nature of physician identity for physician-patient communication are examined. Understanding physician identity is important to health communication scholarship because of the ongoing and central nature of physicians in health-care decision making and delivery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-587
Number of pages13
JournalHealth communication
Volume24
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication

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