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Health Commun. 2015;30(10):1001-12. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2014.913222. Epub 2014 Sep 25.

Constructing and Communicating Privacy Boundaries: How Family Medicine Physicians Manage Patient Requests for Religious Disclosure in the Clinical Interaction.

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a Department of Communication , George Mason University.


Religion/spirituality (R/S) is an important component of some patients' psychosocial framework when facing illness. While many patients report an increased desire for R/S dialogue in clinical interaction, especially when facing a frightening diagnosis, some physicians report discomfort talking about R/S and hold various beliefs regarding the appropriateness of such discussions. Not only do physicians manage conversations centering on patient disclosures in the clinical visit, they must also navigate requests to share their own personal information. Farber et al. (2000) found that over a 12-month period nearly 40% of physicians reported that patients asked questions that transgressed professional boundaries. This article uses Petronio's communication privacy management theory as a lens through which to situate our understanding of how family medicine physicians construct and communicate privacy boundaries in response to patient requests for religious disclosure. Results provide an in-depth theoretical understanding of issues surrounding religious disclosure in the medical visit and expand the discussion on health care providers' personal and professional privacy boundaries as documented by Petronio and Sargent (2011). Implications for health care training and practice are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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