Reconceptualizing the "Patient": Health Care Promotion as Increasing Citizens' Decision-Making Competencies

Rajiv N. Rimal*, Scott C. Ratzan, Paul Arntson, Vicki S. Freimuth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Moving away from source-oriented models of communication, this article proposes that we reframe our understanding of the "patient" as an active citizen involved in individual and collective decision making. Citizens' health-related decisions in their physical, social, and mediated environments are examined. The role of the health communication researcher in each of these environments is to increase citizens' decision-making competencies, a task that requires adopting (a) a multilevel conceptualization of health and (b) a definition of communication that involves the exchange of shared meaning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-74
Number of pages14
JournalHealth communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication


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