To describe typologies of dyadic communication exchanges between primary care providers and their hypertensive patients about prescribed antihypertensive medications.
Qualitative analysis of 94 audiotaped patient-provider encounters, using grounded theory methodology.
Four types of dyadic exchanges were identified: Interactive (53% of interactions), divergent-traditional (24% of interactions), convergent-traditional (17% of interactions) and disconnected (6% of interactions). In the interactive and convergent-traditional types, providers adopted a patient-centered approach and used communication behaviors to engage patients in the relationship. Patients in these interactions adopted either an active role in the visit (interactive), or a passive role (convergent-traditional). The divergent-traditional type was characterized by provider verbal dominance, which inhibited patients' ability to ask questions, seek information, or check understanding of information. In the disconnected types, providers used mainly closed-ended questions and terse directives to gather and convey information, which was often disregarded by patients who instead diverted the conversation to psychosocial issues.
This study identified interdependent patient-provider communication styles that can either facilitate or hinder discussions about prescribed medications.
Examining the processes that underlie dyadic communication in patient-provider interactions is an essential first step to developing interventions that can improve the patient-provider relationship and patient health behaviors.