Unveiling the Gray: Ambiguity, Uncertainty, and Information Seeking in Patient-Provider Communication
Drifka, Chelsey Rae
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Fine Arts and Communication
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Patient-provider communication contains ambiguities, uncertainties, and above all else,. shades of gray. The purpose of this thesis was to explore the not so black and white complexities inherent in patient-provider communication. This quantitative study was conducted in Family Planning Health Services, Inc., a clinic which provides affordable and accessible contraceptive care. Respondents' tolerance of ambiguity was assessed following a vignette about birth control, which varied in low, moderate, and high levels of ambiguity. Results offered no significant statistical differences in relation to ambiguity and uncertainty. Results about respondents' willingness to seek more information following confusing or ambiguous communication indicated that the majority (69.4%) strongly agreed they would try to learn as much information as possible, and even more (72.8%) strongly agreed they would ask more questions before making a decision concerning their birth control. Last, interactive sources, including health professionals, Internet, friends, and family were ranked as the most sought after information channels. To unveil the gray, this thesis explored the theoretical and practical implications of the relationship between ambiguity, uncertainty, and information seeking in patient-provider communication.