Patients' perception of doctor-patient health communication in a rural community

  • Rachel Moyo North-West University, South Africa
  • Abiodun Salawu North-West University, South Africa
Keywords: Communication barriers, Doctor-patient interaction, Health communication, Health literacy, Linguistic democracy, Medicine labels, Effective communication


Effective communication between healthcare provider and patient is crucial, yet research indicates that this communication relationship is often unsatisfactory in both developed and developing countries. Several studies exist on provider-patient communication, but a synthesis of findings on ideal communication appears to be lacking. Thus, this study argues that health literacy and effective communication are important catalysts to enhance the coordinated management of meaning in health communication. For this study, in-depth interviews were conducted in the Mafikeng community in South Africa’s North-West province to collate a variety of patients’ perspectives on the challenges they face when communicating with doctors. Recurrent among the findings were semantic, psychological, physiological, institutional and structural barriers that could hinder effective communication. Practical implications are that all stakeholders should be proactive in promoting effective health communication. Theoretical implications have a bearing on policy formulation, implementation and revision, particularly the indigenous language policy to promote research on the development of medical terminology in indigenous languages.


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