Patient and physician explanatory models for acute bronchitis

Laura M. Snell, Ruth P. Wilson, Kevin C. Offinger, Carolyn Sargent, Olive Chen, Kristen M. Corey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Our goals were to develop explanatory models to better understand how physicians diagnose and treat acute bronchitis; to describe patient expectations and needs when experiencing an episode of acute bronchitis; and to enhance communication between physician and patient. STUDY DESIGN: We used qualitative, semistructured, in-depth interviews to generate patient and physician explanatory models. POPULATION We had a purposeful, homogeneous sample of 30 family physicians and 30 adult patients. OUTCOMES MEASURED: Our multidisciplinary team of investigators used an editing style of analysis to develop patient and physician explanatory models based on the following topics: (1) what caused my illness/etiology, (2) what symptoms I had/onset of symptoms, (3) what my sickness did to me/pathophysioloy, (4) how severe is my sickness/course of illness, and (5) what kind of treatment should I receive/treatment. RESULTS: We found that patient and physician models were congruous for symptoms of acute bronchitis and incongruous for etiology and course of illness. Models were congruous for treatment, although for different reasons. CONCLUSIONS: Patients may have a very vague understanding of the process of infection and the difference between bacteria and viruses. Compounding this confusion is frequent miscommunication from physicians regarding the clinical course of untreated illness. These factors and non-communicated expectations from patients and fear of missing something on the part of physicians contribute to the decision to treat with antibiotics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1035-1040
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Family Practice
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002


  • Acute bronchitis
  • Explanatory models
  • Qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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