It takes two to tango: A dyadic approach to understanding the medication dialogue in patient-provider relationships

Antoinette Schoenthaler, Melissa Basile, Tessa V. West, Adina Kalet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To describe typologies of dyadic communication exchanges between primary care providers and their hypertensive patients about prescribed antihypertensive medications. Methods: Qualitative analysis of 94 audiotaped patient-provider encounters, using grounded theory methodology. Results: Four types of dyadic exchanges were identified: Interactive (53% of interactions), divergent-traditional (24% of interactions), convergent-traditional (17% of interactions) and disconnected (6% of interactions). In the interactive and convergent-traditional types, providers adopted a patient-centered approach and used communication behaviors to engage patients in the relationship. Patients in these interactions adopted either an active role in the visit (interactive), or a passive role (convergent-traditional). The divergent-traditional type was characterized by provider verbal dominance, which inhibited patients’ ability to ask questions, seek information, or check understanding of information. In the disconnected types, providers used mainly closed-ended questions and terse directives to gather and convey information, which was often disregarded by patients who instead diverted the conversation to psychosocial issues. Conclusions: This study identified interdependent patient-provider communication styles that can either facilitate or hinder discussions about prescribed medications. Practice implications: Examining the processes that underlie dyadic communication in patient-provider interactions is an essential first step to developing interventions that can improve the patient-provider relationship and patient health behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1500-1505
Number of pages6
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • Dyadic communication
  • Patient-provider communication
  • Qualitative analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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