Graduation Year

Spring 2012

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Lara Deeb

Reader 2

Leda Martins

Reader 3

Pardis Mahdavi

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© 2012 Katya A. Shackelford


This thesis is about primary care medicine in the United States today. Specifically, I look into primary care providers’ experiences working with patients in the context of the public’s current access to extensive health and medical information online. In this thesis, I discuss and analyze my conversations with physicians, nurse practitioners, and a physicians’ assistant about their objectives in primary care, the challenges they face, and their perceptions of patients’ ability to seek out information on their own. I explore providers’ educational emphasis in primary care consultations, and argue that this focus on education informs their views of patients’ independent research and involvement in care. I further argue that regardless of my informants’ enthusiasm about patient involvement and the merits of patient-education, these providers still hold and express a strong authority over medical knowledge and decisions. Thus in looking at the influence of what could be seen as a democratization of medical knowledge through public access and the Internet, it seems that the limitations of such access are still great in U.S. medical practice.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.