Ambiguous Responsibility in the Doctor-Patient Relationship: The Case of Infertility
Nachtigall, Robert D.
Social Science and Medicine. 1991; 32(8): 875-885.
The effects of ambiguous responsibility in the doctor-patient relationship on persons undergoing medical treatment for infertility are examined through the negotiation process that ensues following diagnosis. Through the analysis of 79 interviews with women and men undergoing infertility treatment, it was found that: (1) diagnosis reinforced individuals' sense of responsibility for their infertility; (2) ambiguity in the doctor-patient relationship affected shifts in patients' perception of physician responsibility, and (3) patients eventually re-established responsibility for their medical treatment. The implications of ambiguous responsibility for symbolic meanings in biomedicine and the way those meanings are linked to power and authority are explored through an examination of power in patient and physician roles, clinical uncertainty, and medical competence.
Attitudes; Autonomy; Communication; Competence; Diagnosis; Drugs; Females; Infertility; Interviews; Males; Normality; Obstetrics and Gynecology; Patient Care; Patient Compliance; Patients; Physician Patient Relationship; Physicians; Professional Competence; Professional Patient Relationship; Psychological Stress; Power; Reproduction; Social Dominance; Stigmatization; Survey; Uncertainty; Values;
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