Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Patient Education and Counseling 102 (2019) 804–809 doi:10.1016/j.pec.2018.12.003


Copyright © 2018 Elsevier B.V. Used by permission.


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.