The confidential patient: the social construction of therapeutic relationships in general medical practice



The interpersonal relationship between doctor and patient is fundamental to general medical practice. In this paper we explore the ways in which general practitioners make sense of the changing political economy of this relationship, as it is restructured by ideas about the patient as consumer, and as it increasingly constitutes the consultation as a point of interaction that may be intrinsically therapeutic. In particular, we explore the ways in which the consultation is the site of negotiated power relations between doctor and patient, and is the site of the doctor's negotiation of powerful discourses of professional and institutional identity.