Date of Conferral

2015

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Ruth Crocker

Abstract

Thyroid disease, a chronic illness, affects nearly 200 million people worldwide and is more common among women than in men. Numerous factors make diagnosing and treating thyroid disease in women challenging. The standard blood test for diagnosing thyroid disease and determining treatment effectiveness is inconsistent in its accuracy. Many women with thyroid disease are misdiagnosed or struggle with symptoms even once receiving treatment. Although thyroid disease is highly prevalent among women and the doctor-patient relationship is known to influence treatment outcomes, there is a gap in the literature regarding the treatment experiences of women with thyroid disease and the doctor-patient relationship. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore female thyroid patientsâ?? experiences of treatment and the doctor-patient relationship. Sixteen female thyroid patients, ages 18 and older and members of an international online support group, were individually interviewed via online chat. Data interpretation was guided by social constructionism and feminist theory and was accomplished via Moustakasâ??s analytic method. Themes related to the doctor-patient relationship were identified, including the culture of the medical profession, diagnostic bias, and gender differences in communication. Emergent themes included patient education level, patient self-advocacy behaviors, and the use of natural thyroid medication. The results of this study may contribute to positive social change by enhancing doctorsâ?? understanding of thyroid disease in women and the influence of the doctor-patient relationship in determining positive treatment outcomes, thus equipping doctors with enriched knowledge for providing their female thyroid patients with the highest quality of care.

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