Patients’ Severity of Illness, Noncompliance, and Locus of Control and Physicians’ Compliance-Gaining Messages

Michael Burgoon, Roxanne Parrott, Judee K Burgoon, Ray Coker, Michael Pfau, Thomas Birk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


This study explored primary care physicians’ verbal compliance-gaining strategy selection as reported by their patients. The investigation found that patients report their physicians to rely more on verbally unaggressive messages, such as liking and positive expertise, than on verbally aggressive ones. Physicians were reported to increase use of verbally unaggressive message strategies during subsequent interactions. Patients’ satisfaction was found to be positively related to physicians’ verbally unaggressive strategies. However, verbally aggressive strategy use was not found to relate negatively to patients’ satisfaction. Patients’ locus of control was found to interact significantly with severity of illness and physicians’ use of compliance-gaining strategies to predict patients’ compliance. Physicians’ use of more verbally aggressive strategies for conditions in which patients were internalizers and had a potentially severe or nonthreatening medical condition significantly increased compliance, as did such use for situations in which patients had a moderately severe medical condition and were in the midrange on health locus or were externalizers with a potentially severe illness. Implications for communication and health care providers are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-46
Number of pages18
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication


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