Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Communication and Connectedness: Recapturing the Humanity in the Doctor-patient Relationship through Rapport-building

Dr Gretchen R. Norling, Dr Nancy Harrington.

Medical science has made enormous strides over the centuries. Medical technology has brought us ever closer to understanding the complexities of the human body, new drugs have wiped out epidemics and prevented others, and disease research brings us closer to medical breakthroughs everyday. However, there is a great cost: As medicine becomes more and more technology-focused, it has become less and less human-focused.
Physicians claim that they have become glorified medical technicians and patients have become “the diabetic in room 310.” Today, many physicians are being forced to see more and more patients to increase productivity, where the focus becomes gathering diagnostic information and formulating treatment plans in the most time efficient manner rather than focusing on what it means to be ill for the patient or how it may affect other aspects of their lives.
Both physicians and patients are mourning the loss of the human-side of medicine, especially within the doctor-patient relationship. But is it gone forever? This paper explores ways in which focusing on communication can facilitate the recapturing of humanity within the doctor-patient relationship by presenting a theoretical model of rapport-building and bridging the disconnect between science and humanity.


Dr Gretchen R. Norling  (United States)

Dr Nancy Harrington  (United States)
Associate Professor
Department of Communication
University of Kentucky

Nancy Grant Harrington (Ph.D., 1992, Kentucky) is an Associate Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Communication in the College of Communications and Information Studies, University of Kentucky. She also holds an academic appointment in the School of Public Health and is a faculty associate of the Multidisciplinary Center on Drug and Alcohol Abuse. She has been involved as a principal investigator, co-investigator or principal evaluator with several NIH-funded studies. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in interpersonal communication, health communication and communication theory. Her research focuses on persuasive message design in a health behavior change context.

  • Communication
  • Rapport
  • Physician
  • Patient

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)