Shifting goals in medical communication. Determinants of goal detection and response formation

Patient Educ Couns. 2009 Mar;74(3):302-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2008.12.001. Epub 2009 Jan 9.


Objectives: Research and education of medical communication different perspective, making the extraction of clear recommendations from research that can be applied in education not always possible. In education, medical communication is encountered from a goal-oriented perspective, which is often lacking in quantitative research where the relationship between process variables and the content of medical practice is often ignored. The aim of this paper is to bring the worlds of research and education together by presenting a comprehensive model of determinants explaining the behavior of physicians in daily practice. A basic notion in this model is that medical communication is goal-oriented, problem-solving behavior. Goals in communication are not fixed, but permanently changing over time. Hence, communication abilities do not rely on behavioral skills only but also on perceptual skills in identifying goals. A number of determinants affect the cognitive processes of goal appraisal and response formation: knowledge, attitudes, social norms, self-efficacy, stressors and interfering goals.

Conclusion: Modeling medical communication as goal-oriented problem-solving behavior, and recognizing the complexity of goal appraisal and other key determinants of response formation may provide a common focus for both research and education in measuring, explaining and improving the HCP's behavior.

Practice implications: In education not only skill practicing but also reflection on the process and outcomes is important to understand how one acts in practice situations and should act in future situations. In research measurements should be expanded to take contextual and goal-oriented dimensions of the process of communication into account to make findings more relevant for education and practice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Clinical Competence
  • Communication*
  • Data Collection
  • Education, Medical / organization & administration
  • Goals*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Medical History Taking
  • Models, Educational*
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Patient Participation / methods
  • Patient Participation / psychology
  • Physician's Role* / psychology
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Problem Solving
  • Research / organization & administration
  • Research Design
  • Self Efficacy
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Time Factors