The next seminar of the 2012 series of Applied Linguistics seminars at Macquarie University will be held on Tuesday, August 28:
“Now let’s write a letter to your doctor – Strengthening patient-doctor trust through use of the dictated letter during medical consultations”
When: Tue 28/08, 1:00-2:00pm; Where: W5C 221
Presenters: Catherine O’Grady and Maria R. Dahm, Macquarie University
Abstract: Within the medical world, the Dictaphone has been regarded as a useful tool for ‘back-stage’ activities such as dictating letters to referring doctors at the end of a consultation day. Little attention has been paid to its use in ‘front-stage’ interactions with patients. Drawing upon transcriptions of 28 recorded consultations in a gastro-intestinal clinic, together with a follow-up interview with the participating surgeon, we examine the range of relational and medical functions, including trust building, that are served by the practice of co-constructing the consultation letter with patients during the medical encounter.
Against this backdrop, we then focus on a specific, communicatively challenging encounter where the patient is seeking a second opinion following an operation that she deems unsuccessful. In an interactional environment where trust is in jeopardy, we trace the doctor’s strategic interactional work to build interpersonal trust with the patient and to regain her trust in the surgical profession. Close analysis of the discourse of this consultation reveals how the co-constructed consultation letter is deployed to strengthen the fragile patient-doctor trust engendered thus far.
Finally, we consider the relevance of our findings for medical practitioners and clinical educators.