Understanding interpersonal communication processes across health contexts: advances in the last decade and challenges for the next decade

J Health Commun. 2006;11(1):93-108. doi: 10.1080/10810730500461125.


Interpersonal communication processes are central to the provider-patient interaction and in relationships with someone who is ill or needs care. The last decade of research has documented the ways communication processes predict better outcomes in the provider-patient interaction and key constructs for consideration in close relationships in which a health issue in some way defines the relationship. The current article highlights findings from the previous decade and the ways previous findings serve as a theoretical and methodological foundation for more sophisticated analysis of interpersonal communication processes in health contexts. A relational perspective serves as a link between the provider-patient relationship and close relationships with someone with a health issue. Implications for provider-patient contexts, medical education, and close relationships highlight future directions for theory building, health literacy, health outcomes, family communication, developmental issues, and a life span perspective.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Forecasting
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Promotion*
  • Health Services Research* / trends
  • Humans
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Social Support