Infertility patient-provider communication and (dis)continuity of care: An exploration of illness identity transitions

Angela L. Palmer-Wackerly, Heather L. Voorhees, Sarah D'Souza, Edward Weeks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: To identify how and why infertility patients’ communication with health care providers relates to their continuity of care within infertility treatment. Method: A grounded theory analysis was conducted for 25 in-depth interviews across three coding phases, where we remained open to all themes present in the data, narrowed to most prominent themes, and found the connections between the themes. Results: Based on our identified themes, we created a conceptual model that explains why infertility patients (dis)continued care with one or more clinician. Through this model, we describe two infertility identity transitions for patients: Transition 1: “Infertility as Temporary” to “Infertility as Enduring”; and Transition 2: “Infertility as Enduring” to “Infertility as Integrated.” Conclusion: The study explains how and why patients’ view of their infertility affects their communication, and thus their continuity of care, with clinicians. Practice implications: To provide patient-centered care within infertility treatment, providers can recognize how patients’ view of their infertility, and thus their needs, goals, and expectations, shift throughout their infertility experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)804-809
Number of pages6
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • Continuity of care
  • Illness identity change
  • Infertility
  • Patient-provider communication


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