Patient-physician role relationships and patient activation among individuals with chronic illness

Health Serv Res. 2012 Jun;47(3 Pt 1):1201-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6773.2011.01354.x. Epub 2011 Nov 18.


Objective: To examine whether chronically ill patients' perceptions of their role relationships with their physicians are associated with levels of patient activation.

Data sources: Random digit dial survey of 8,140 chronically ill patients and the Area Resource File.

Study design: Cross-sectional, multivariate analysis of the relationship between dimensions of patient-physician role relationships and level of patient activation. The study controlled for variables related to patient demographics, socioeconomic status, health status, and market and family context.

Principal findings: Higher perceived quality of interpersonal exchange with physicians, greater fairness in the treatment process, and more out-of-office contact with physicians were associated with higher levels of patient activation. Treatment goal setting was not significantly associated with patient activation.

Conclusion: Patient-physician relationships are an important factor in patients taking a more active role in their health and health care. Efforts to increase activation that focus only on individual patients ignore the important fact that the nature of roles and relationships between provider and patient can shape the behaviors and attitudes of patients in ways that support or discourage patient activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease / therapy*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Least-Squares Analysis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Patient Participation*
  • Patient Satisfaction* / ethnology
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States