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Physician-patient communication behaviors in the most popular prime time television shows.

Hoffman, Beth and Cafferty, Lauren and Shensa, Ariel and Jain, Parul and Rosenthal, Erica and Primack, Brian and Sidani, Jaime (2020) Physician-patient communication behaviors in the most popular prime time television shows. Journal of Health Communication. ISSN 1087-0415

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Previous research suggests that television programming may influence viewers’ health-related knowledge, perceptions, and behaviors but has yet to examine patient–provider interactions on the most popular primetime television programs. We aimed to characterize the frequency and nature of patient-centered communication (PCC) behaviors on these programs, as cultivation and social cognitive theories suggest that these depictions may influence viewers’ expectations of real-life health-care experiences. We examined 203 patient–provider interactions across 84 episodes of 22 primetime television programs—both medical and non-medical—that aired during the spring of 2016 and spring of 2017. Each interaction was analyzed for the presence of 21 optimal PCC behaviors. This study found that the most frequently observed PCC behaviors focused on the provider making good eye contact and displaying good manners. However, PCC behaviors related to managing patient uncertainty and self-management were rare. Overall, providers in medical programs were significantly more likely to exhibit certain PCC behaviors, such as asking a patient questions, having good manners, and self-disclosing personal information, compared to providers in non-medical programs. Implications of these findings include the potential for such depictions to influence patient expectations of real-life experiences and health outcomes. Future research is needed to examine these potential influences.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hoffman, Bethbeth.hoffman@pitt.edublh72
Centers: Other Centers, Institutes, Offices, or Units > Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health
Date: 4 February 2020
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Health Communication
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1080/10810730.2020.1723040
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
School of Medicine > Medicine
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 1087-0415
Official URL:
Funders: The SCAN Foundation
Article Type: Research Article
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2020 15:24
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2020 15:24


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