Serina Pace

Date of Award


First Advisor

Paul Naamon

Second Advisor

Erin McMullin


The purpose of this study is to understand health and the doctor-patient relationship from the millennial perspective. A millennial is “A member of the generation that was born roughly between 1980 and 2000. Millennials grew up during economic and political flux, experiencing the end of the Cold War, the dotcom bubble, the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the late 2000s recession” (). This thesis is divided into two parts: the research and the study. In Part I, I am concerned with understanding the characteristics that make up the millennial generation. Millennials are a subset of the population who are not children and they are not elders. The health decisions of millennials are no longer dictated by their parents who would normally be there to take them to their doctor’s appointments, feed them dinner, etc. Now, millennials have to choose what foods go into their bodies, whether they will exercise or not, if they will purchase health insurance or not, if they get dental insurance, if they want to have a relationship with a primary care provider, etc. All or most of these decisions have to be made whether they are advised by their parents or not. How do millennials cope with stress? What technological devices do millennials use? What are the health risks of the technologies millennials use on a regular basis? What is the doctor patient relationship? What makes a doctor-patient relationship successful? I will address all of these questions in Part I of this thesis. In the last section of Part I, I describe various aspects of the doctor-patient relationship. These include: communication, body language, and what makes for a successful doctor-patient relationship. The following claim describes communication as being an important part of the doctor-patient relationship: “Research on doctor-patient communication has generated considerable evidence that effective communication can improve outcome measures such as patient satisfaction, adherence to treatment, and disease outcomes. Provision of adequate information, elicitation of patient worries, and a participatory decision-making style have all correlated with improved effectiveness” (Ferguson, 2002).” In addition to communication, when considering body language in the doctor-patient relationship, it is essential that doctors step back and realize that while their clinical skills are indispensable, personality matters, too. A caring smile and soft touch on the arm can make a world of difference in a patient’s day (Cohen, 2014). In order to achieve a successful doctor-patient relationship Ong says the following: “This notion of quality over quantity is a very important one. The patient will need to make sure that the doctor can effectively listen and communicate with them during the small amount of time they have allotted for their medical visit. A great doctor will immediately communicate with his or her patient within seconds of entering a medical room. Patient-centered care was defined as care in which the physician responded to patients in such a way as to allow him/her to express all of the patient’s reasons for coming, including: symptoms, feelings, thoughts and expectations” (Ong, 1995). In Part II of this thesis, I detail the results, conclusions, and limitations of the pilot study I conducted. In order to do this study, I composed a questionnaire of 22 questions which included: demographic questions as well as questions regarding the experience millennials have when going to an appointment to see their primary care practitioner. I received approval to conduct this study from the HRRC committee at Bard College at Simon’s Rock. For this pilot study I expected to receive 25 respondents, but instead I received 62 respondents. Of these 62 respondents, on average 36 respondents answered all the questions of my “Millennial Health Questionnaire”. For an exact meaning of terms used throughout this thesis, please refer to the Glossary at the end of this thesis.