ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (4): 676-688.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2019.00676

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Lay theories of illness and their influences on doctor-patient relationships

LÜ Xiaokang1, TANG Lei1,2(), JIANG He1, WANG Xinjian1   

  1. 1 Department of Social Psychology, Zhou Enlai School of Government, Nankai University, Tianjin 300350, China
    2 College of Foreign Languages, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China
  • Received:2018-03-16 Online:2019-04-15 Published:2019-02-22
  • Contact: TANG Lei


Lay theories of illness are a collection of lay people’s knowledge, explanations, and attitudes toward a particular disease. Compared with medical professionals, lay people are more concerned with the pathogenic effects of psychological, family and social factors than biological factors. They choose diverse medical treatments rather than follow the standardized medical model; they are more willing to treat the disease experience as a special issue of personal life and develop a constructive understanding. The discrepancies between lay theories of illness and scientific medical theories can lower patient’s satisfaction with medical care, trust in medical practitioners, and adherence to doctor’s advice, thereby affecting treatment outcomes. It is believed that studying Chinese lay theories of illness, their impact on doctor-patient relationships and the social psychological mechanism thereof, in the context of the Chinese medical culture and medical system, will provide useful suggestions for reducing the current tension between doctors and patients in China.

Key words: lay theories, lay theories of illness, doctor-patient relationships, doctor-patient communication

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