Date of Award

May 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Mike Allen

Committee Members

Nancy Burrell, Erin Ruppel, Mary Burke


Health Care Disparity, LGBTQ Communication Issues, Media Richness Theory, Physician Selection, Physician Videos, Uncertainty Reduction Theory


Today, the growth of the use of web-based communication technologies and online health information creates an environment where people can find vast amounts of information about physicians from several sources. Some health care organizations offer physician profile videos that feature individual physicians providing professional and personal background. Videos provide a rich channel for patients to find physicians who best meet patient needs and expectations. Physician videos provide an introductory view into the communication style and demeanor of the physician, both of which contributes to the health outcomes of the patient.

Because of previous negative health care experiences or the fear of having a negative experience, many LGBTQ people delay seeking care health care or refuse seeking care altogether. The delay in care and refusal of care contributes to significant LGBTQ health disparities. One effective way to help overcome this barrier to effective health care is to help patients find LGBTQ-accepting health care providers, where fear of stigma will not be a factor.

Using uncertainty reduction theory and media richness theory as foundations, this study examines how lesbians could use physician videos to identify LGBTQ-friendly physicians. Using actual video profiles to prompt discussion, two focus groups of eight lesbians each discussed the importance of a physician being LGBTQ-friendly, the characteristics lesbian patients look for or like in physicians, and what verbal and nonverbal cues lesbians look for to form judgments about physicians’ acceptance levels.

The findings indicate the participants agreed that physician LGBTQ-friendliness is important in helping reduce irrelevant medical questions, include loved ones in health care experiences, and improve the quality of care. The participants discussed the physician qualities most appreciated in physicians including being authentic, creating a balance of being down-to-earth while professionally confident, and being female. The cues the participants would consider distinguishing LGBTQ-friendly physicians include the use of keywords and inclusive language. But, most importantly the participants indicated the desire to see physicians be explicit and direct about welcoming LGBTQ patients. The directness would provide visibility to the LGBTQ community which seems to be mostly absent in representation in physician videos today. The theoretical and practical implications are discussed. Tips are shared for physicians who desire to have better reach to LGBTQ patients.

Included in

Communication Commons