Social Context of the Health Care System
Patient self-advocacy is a nuanced skill when interacting within the health care system. In this age of patient centered care, consumers are encouraged to be empowered, to be at the helm of their medical decision-making; yet there are social norms as to how they need to behave in a medical interaction. The power still ultimately resides with the health care provider, and physicians in particular. This power dynamic requires a delicately balanced interplay between patient and provider. That interplay makes trust all the more paramount.
If consumers feel like they don’t have power in a social setting, they are less likely to speak up regarding an unaddressed care issue. Every time consumers interact with health care providers they are making conscious (or unconscious) decisions to let their guard down and trust that what is being shared is safe to share.