Clinical Expert or Service Provider? Physicians’ Identity Work in the Context of Counterprofessional Patient Requests
Researchers often discuss patient-related outcomes of the shift from the paternalistic physician-to-patient model to those of patient participation, yet little is known about the impact of patient participation on physicians’ professional identity. In this study, we explored the context of counterprofessional patient requests in which patient participation conflicts with medical professionalism. We interviewed 34 physicians, of whom 14 were family physicians and pediatricians, and 20 were specialists in various fields. Data were analyzed by a grounded theory approach. Our findings indicate that physicians experienced conflicts between their identities as clinical experts, caretakers, service providers, and resource allocators. To cope with the resulting tension, physicians used the strategies of hierarchy setting, integrating, incorporating the patient, and changing the meaning of an identity or the event. All strategies were implemented by cognitive and relational tactics.
Peer Reviewed Research