The Social Construction of the Patient-physician Relationship in the Clinical Encounter: Media Frames on Shared Decision Making in Germany

Amyn Vogel*, Felix Balzer, Daniel Fürstenau

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The literature on healthcare management has noted that shared decision-making (SDM) - a practice of organizing joint decisions between healthcare professionals and patients - should improve healthcare outcomes through patient engagement and autonomy, fostering patient-centeredness. While SDM projects are implemented across Europe and the US, the diffusion of the practice remains partial, and its' conceptualization scattered. Healthcare management literature explores SDM on the underlying assumption that its limited diffusion results from an information problem, implying objective criteria and rational behavior. The purpose of this research is to study the social construction of SDM within the clinical setting and the underlying rationales using the case of one of the largest healthcare markets worldwide – Germany. To capture the complexity of SDM, a frame analysis is conducted on its medial representations. News media is both influential in shaping public opinion, as well as in generating public discourse. This analysis enables one to elaborate different facets of the construct of SDM, to capture inherent patterns of facilitating and obstructing aspects and to explore consequences for the diffusion of SDM. Three facilitating and three obstructive frames on the implementation of SDM were identified. The polarities of these frames range from the questioning of one's decision-making authority to the perception of individual competence and decision-making agency. Moreover, this study reflects on how physicians' and patients' role for SDM is conceived.
Original languageEnglish
Article number114420
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Shared decision-making
  • Frame analysis
  • Innovation acceptance
  • Healthcare innovation
  • News media analysis

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