M. Robin DiMatteo, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor
Department of Psychology
University of California, Riverside
Email: robin.dimatteo@ucr.edu Discipline: Psychology, Health Services Research Expertise: Disparities, Quality of Care

Investigator Award
Ethnicity, Social Class and the Primary Care Medical Visit: The Process of Provider-Patient Communication
Award Year: 2005 So much medical information delivered in the mass media - from public health campaigns to drug commercials - concludes by advising the audience to "talk to your doctor." Sounds simple enough, but in fact, research is beginning to suggest that doctor-patient communications can be highly variable, particularly when doctors and patients come from different socio-economic backgrounds. M. Robin DiMatteo, Ph.D. is especially interested in the communication breakdown that occurs when patients are from a disadvantaged background. Her project, Ethnicity, Social Class, and the Primary Care Medical Visit: The Process of Provider-Patient Communication, considers the extent of communication disparities and how they might affect health care outcomes. Dr. DiMatteo also examines whether training programs for physicians and patients can help close the communication gap and enhance physician-patient partnerships. Her project should produce new insights into the use of effective communication as a means of reducing disparities in the delivery of primary care.

Background

Robin DiMatteo is Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Riverside. She received her Ph.D. in 1976 from the psychology and social relations program at Harvard, and has spent her entire career at UC Riverside. She has served as chair of the psychology department, and is a recipient of UCR's Distinguished Teaching Award. Since she was a graduate student under the mentorship of social psychologist Robert Rosenthal, Dr. DiMatteo has studied the micro-social environment of health care delivery. Her work on dyadic interactions in health care has focused primarily on physicians and patients, but recently she has broadened her studies to include nurses. She is interested in interpersonal behavior in the process of care, including both providers' and patients' verbal and nonverbal communications. Dr. DiMatteo also studies patient adherence to medical treatment. For the past two decades, she has examined the measurement and prediction of patient adherence, focusing on patient knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, behavioral constraints, depression, social support, illness severity, and provider-patient communication as they affect patients' willingness and ability to follow a variety of preventive and treatment recommendations. Her current work involves the study of income and ethnic disparities in provider-patient communication and in the promotion and maintenance of patient adherence to treatment.