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Sandra Petronio


This content analysis explores the management of medical information exchanged directly between a discloser (asking questions), and a confidant (providing answers). The interaction is a mediated communication without moderator. This context is unique in terms of exploring the balancing of privacy and disclosure from the Communication Privacy Management (CPM) theory (Petronio, 2002). The coding categories were constructed to provide information about differences in boundaries' structure, and about the dynamics of rules formation. Adjusting to the process of selecting your own information, and succeeding to create interpersonal relationships takes place differently in different cultures, and on different levels of socio-economic development. This study employs a content analysis of the Romanian weekly "Formula As", the health section. This section publishes the readers' health questions as they are received by the editor, and the answers to those questions, without any monitoring from the newspaper. Frequencies and chi-squares were performed in order to assess the importance of linkage, ownership, and permeability rules operating within the process of balancing privacy and disclosure. The prevalent criteria in rules' formation determined the coordinating patterns for disclosers and recipients. The present research contributes to the communication scholarship in multiple ways. First, it investigates disclosures of medical information in mediated contexts. Second, it performs a quantitative measurement of CPM's theoretical concepts and explains the dynamics of rules' foundation as function of specific criteria. Third, it provides the possibility to assess practically the structure of medical privacy boundaries. Fourth, it provides the possibility to identify specific features of the way the rule system functions in order to balance privacy and disclosure of medical information. Fifth, it illuminates the interpersonal interactions within mass media contexts.

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