Context: Patients' perceptions of the quality of their relationships with health care providers may influence their health care-seeking behaviors and future interactions with providers, including use of conventional health care, use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and disclosure of CAM use.
Objective: The study examined the associations between perceived patient-centered communication and provider avoidance, CAM use, and CAM-use disclosure.
Design: This study used cross-sectional survey data from the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) 3, a nationally representative survey of US adults collected between January 2008 and May 2008.
Outcome measures: Two questions asked about CAM use and CAM-use disclosure, and another asked about avoidance of doctors. For the independent variable, responses from 6 questions on patient-centered communication were averaged to create a scale score ranging from 1-4. The research team conducted multiple logistic regressions of the 3 primary outcome measures, adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, presence or absence of a regular source of care, insurance status, frequency of visits to providers, and health status. All analyses were weighted to make the results representative of the US population aged ≥18 y.
Results: Approximately one-third of respondents (36%) had avoided seeing their doctors within the 12 mo prior to the survey. Approximately 24% had used CAM within the prior 12 mo, and 51.7% of CAM users had discussed their CAM use with their doctors. Higher levels of patient-centered communication were significantly associated with lower odds of provider avoidance (AOR=0.63; 95% CI=0.52, 0.76) and CAM use (AOR=0.60; 95% CI=0.46, 0.78) but were not associated with CAM-use disclosure.
Conclusions: Findings suggest that patients may be more likely to avoid seeing their doctors and more likely to use CAM when they perceive low levels of patient-centered communication. Further research to understand the role of the characteristics of patient-provider relationships on provider avoidance, CAM use, and CAM-use disclosure is warranted.