After 30 Years, Problems and Prospects in the Study of Doctor–Patient Interaction

  • John Heritage
  • Douglas W. Maynard
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


In the 1970s, two major studies established the systematic study of doctor–patient interaction as a viable research domain. The first, conducted by Korsch and Negrete (1972) at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles was based on observations of 800 pediatric acute care visits and used a modifield version of Bales’ (1950) Interaction Process Analysis to code the data. The results were striking. Nearly a fifth of the parents left the clinic without a clear statement of what was wrong with their child, and nearly half were left wondering what had caused their child’s illness. A quarter of the parents reported that they had not mentioned their greatest concern because of lack of opportunity or encouragement. The study uncovered a strong relationship between these and other communication failures and nonadherence with medical recommendations, showing that 56% of parents who felt that the physicians had not met their expectations were “grossly noncompliant.”


Medical Visit Patient Relationship Patient Interaction Medical Encounter Medical Authority 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA

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