Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Soc Sci Med. 2009 Sep;69(5):729-37. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.06.032. Epub 2009 Jul 18.

Demanding patient or demanding encounter?: A case study of a cancer clinic.

Author information

  • 1Department of Sociology, Kent State University, OH 44242-0001, United States.


This paper explores the sociological relevance of demanding encounters between doctors and patients. Borrowing from Potter and McKinlay's [(2005). From a relationship to encounter: an examination of longitudinal and lateral dimensions in the doctor-patient relationship. Social Science & Medicine, 61, 465-479] reconceptualization of the doctor-patient relationship, we suggest an analytic shift away from 'demanding patients' toward 'demanding encounters'. Such a shift places provider-patient conflict within a broader socio-cultural context, emphasizing constraints facing both doctor and patient as they interact in a clinical setting. Specifically, through an ethnographic study of doctor-patient interactions at the oncology clinic of a US University Hospital, we examine the respective influences of new information technologies and patient consumerism in the production of demanding encounters in oncology. Findings suggest that these interconnected socio-cultural realities, in tandem with patient tendencies to challenge physician judgment or expertise, play a role in demanding encounters. We conclude by considering the implications of demanding encounters for doctors, patients and healthcare organizations.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk