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Problems and Prospects in the Study of Physician-Patient Interaction: 30 Years of Research

John Heritage and Douglas W. Maynard
Annual Review of Sociology
Vol. 32 (2006), pp. 351-374
Published by: Annual Reviews
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/29737743
Page Count: 24
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Problems and Prospects in the Study of Physician-Patient Interaction: 30 Years of Research
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Abstract

Working within the functionalist perspective that he did so much to develop, Parsons (1951) conceptualized the physician-patient relationship according to a normative framework defined by the pattern variable scheme. As Parsons clearly recognized, this normative conceptualization was one that empirical reality at best only approximates. In the 1970s, two major studies established doctor-patient interaction as a viable research domain. In the present review, we consider approaches to the medical interview developing from these initiatives and that have a primary focus on observable features of doctor-patient interaction. Within this orientation, we consider literature dealing with social, moral, and technical dilemmas that physicians and patients face in primary care and the resources that they deploy in solving them. This literature embodies a steady evolution away from a doctor-centered emphasis toward a more balanced focus on the conduct of doctors and patients together.

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