Latest Issue: Vol 11, No 2 (2014) RSS2 logo

Communication & Medicine

Editor Srikant Sarangi Aalborg University, Denmark

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Since its inception in 2004, Communication & Medicine has been consistently interrogating the `black box’ of what is routinely characterised as `the communicative turn’ in healthcare practice in clinical and public health domains. It is now firmly established as a leading forum for these critical debates.

Aims and Scope
Communication & Medicine continues to abide by the following distinctive aims:

• To consolidate different traditions of discourse and communication research in its commitment to an understanding of psychosocial, cultural and ethical aspects of healthcare in contemporary societies.

• To cover the different specialities within medicine and allied healthcare studies.

• To underscore the significance of specific areas and themes by bringing out special issues from time to time.

• To be fully committed to publishing evidence-based, data-driven original studies with practical application and relevance as key guiding principles.

• To be targeted at an interdisciplinary audience, which will include healthcare professionals and researchers and students in the medical, social and human sciences.

• To promote a reader-friendly style and format, including engagements with debates and dialogues on crosscutting themes of topical significance.

The editor is supported by an internationally acclaimed, interdisciplinary advisory board, selectively drawn to represent the well-established traditions of the medical, social and human sciences.

Indexing and Abstracting
Bibliography of Linguistic Literature / Bibliographie Linguistischer Literature (BLL)
EBSCO Communication and Mass Media Index
EBSCO Current Abstracts
IBZ International Bibliography of Periodical Literature in the Humanities and Social Sciences
IBR International Bilbiography of Book Reviews of Scholarly Literature in the Humanities and Social Sciences
Linguistics and Language Behaviour Abstracts
OCLC Electronic Collections Online
Proquest Academic Research Library
Proquest Central
Proquest Health & Medical Complete
Proquest Health Management
ProQuest Medical Library
ProQuest Nursing & Allied Health Source
European Reference Index (ERIH Plus)

Publication and Frequency: 3 issues per year from 2011 (volume 8)
ISSN: 1612-1783 (print)
ISSN: 1613-3625 (online)

Professor Srikant Sarangi
Faculty of Humanities
Aalborg University
Kroghstræde 3
DK-9220 Aalborg Ø

Notice Regarding Volumes 1-4
For print copies of Volumes 1-4 as well as online access for those issues please contact the former publisher, Mouton De Gruyter.

Most Recent Articles


Using SurveyMonkey® to teach safe social media strategies to medical students in their clinical years

Social media is a valuable tool in the practice of medicine, but it can also be an area of ‘treacherous waters’ for medical students. Those in their upper years of study are off-site and scattered broadly, undertaking clinical rotations; thus, in-house (university lecture) sessions are impractical. Nonetheless, during these clinical years students are generally high users of social media technology, putting them at risk of harm if they lack appropriate ethical awareness. We created a compulsory session in social media ethics (Doctoring and Social Media) offered in two online modes (narrated PowerPoint file or YouTube video) to fourth- and fifth-year undergraduate medical students. The novelty of our work was the use of SurveyMonkey® to deliver the file links, as well as to take attendance and deliver a post-session performance assessment. All 167 students completed the course and provided feedback. Overall, 73% Agreed or Strongly Agreed the course session would aid their professionalism skills and behaviours, and 95% supported delivery of the curriculum online. The most frequent areas of learning occurred in the following topics: email correspondence with patients, medical photography, and awareness of medical apps. SurveyMonkey® is a valuable and efficient tool for curriculum delivery, attendance taking, and assessment activities.
Posted: 2015-06-12More...

The collective voice: Legitimation strategies in focus group discussions with nurses in municipal palliative care for older people in Sweden

This paper explores focus group discussions of registered nurses in municipal palliative care for older people, using data collected by researchers with an interest in health sciences. The linguistically based discourse analyis builds on a combination of Bakhtinian notions of dialogicity, the Other and addressivity, the use of quotations, and also van Leeuwen’s framework for legitimation in discourse. The aim is to investigate strategies of addressing and legitimizing palliative care. Three types of narrative are discerned: the cautionary tale, fictionalization of professional experiences and the enactment of a fictive dialogue. The other professions involved (physicians, assistant nurses) are positioned as the Other as a means of legitimizing the perspectives of the registered nurses. As the patients and their next of kin are the objects of professional activities, the notion of the Third (connecting to the Other) is proposed. The objectification is a manifestation of commitment with routinized and professional distance to the patients.
Posted: 2015-06-11More...

Engaging death: Narrative and constructed dialogue in Advance Care Planning discussions

Advance Care Planning (ACP) remains extremely low in the US, due to numerous institutional and cultural barriers and discomfort in discussing death. There is a need for guidance about how patient and healthcare providers can effectively engage in ACP discussion. Here we analyze the linguistic strategies that focus-group participants use when discussing ACP in detailed ways. Prevalent linguistic structures in effective ACP discussions were loved ones’ end-of-life narratives, hypothetical narratives, and constructed dialogue. In elucidating spontaneous, unprompted approaches to effective discussion of end-of-life issues, such research can help to dislodge communicative barriers to ACP so that more people are prepared to engage the process.
Posted: 2015-06-11More...

Data sharing for public health research: A qualitative study of industry and academia

Data sharing is a key biomedical research theme for the 21st century. Biomedical data sharing is the exchange of data among (non)affiliated parties under mutually agreeable terms to promote scientific advancement and the development of safe and effective medical products. Wide sharing of research data is important for scientific discovery, medical product development, and public health. Data sharing enables improvements in development of medical products, more attention to rare diseases, and cost-efficiencies in biomedical research. We interviewed 11 participants about their attitudes and beliefs about data sharing. Using a qualitative, thematic analysis approach, our analysis revealed a number of themes including: experiences, approaches, perceived challenges, and opportunities for sharing data.
Posted: 2015-06-11More...

Disclosure of mental health problems in general practice: The gradual emergence of latent topics and resources for achieving their consideration

Common mental disorders often go undetected in primary care. Sharpening general practitioners’ (GPs’) attention to potential signs thereof is therefore crucial. This conversation-analytic study arises from the observation that the consideration of psychological problems in new-concern visits can be achieved by way of ‘gradual topic emergence’. This entails that the problem is not presented directly, but adjunct to somatic symptoms, and is hinted at by way of generic, ambiguous complaints, and furthermore by expressions of frustration and uncertainty and talk about lifeworld problems. It is argued that these materials are ‘trouble-premonitory’, alerting the GP to the presence of an underlying problem that can then be addressed through further inquiry. The patient logic behind this approach is to assure the GP’s recipiency and thus ratification of the problem’s medical legitimacy. It allows the patient to introduce a potentially delicate problem ‘off the record’, thus guarding the patient against the loss of face that could result from no uptake by the GP. The results of the study point to the importance of GPs being receptive to such interactional clues to psychological problems provided by patients.
Posted: 2015-06-11More...

Most Viewed Articles


The use of abbreviations in medical records in a multidisciplinary world -- an imminent disaster

Abbreviations are commonly used in the medical world to save time and space whilst writing in the patients’ medical records. As various specialties have evolved, each has developed a collection of commonly used abbreviations within its practice, which may not be recognizable to those not working within the same field. The purpose of this study was to assess whether we, the multidisciplinary team members, correctly interpret the abbreviations used in the medical records. We analysed one week of orthopaedic surgical medical records for the use of abbreviations and assessed their appreciation by other members of the multidisciplinary team by means of a standardized questionnaire. We found great variability in the understanding of these abbreviations by different groups of health care professionals. As expected, the orthopaedic surgeons produced significantly more right answers when compared to the other groups, but even they could correctly interpret just over half (57.24 per cent) of the abbreviations. There were many misinterpretations of the abbreviations across the specialties posing imminent clinical risk. Whilst abbreviations may indeed save time, the observed inter-group variation in correct interpretation of these abbreviations is unacceptable. We recommend that the abbreviations have no place in the multidisciplinary world and their continued use will only lead to eventual clinical error.
Posted: 2008-11-25More...

Laughter, communication problems and dementia

This article investigates how the elderly with dementia and their professional caregivers use laughter as a device to deal with problems related to language production and comprehension. The data consist of two game-playing situations, used to engage the elderly people in memory work. The article shows how the elderly patients recurrently laugh to acknowledge communication difficulties and to show awareness of their potential non-competency. The professional caregivers are shown to use slightly different strategies for responding to laughter segments initiated by the patients, either making the shortcomings part of the conversation or avoiding referring to the lapse explicitly. The laughter strategies used by the patients are compared to those reported in the CA-literature on laughter. It is well known that laughter is used in sequences of trouble and delicacy in both ordinary and institutional contexts, but my study shows that speakers with dementia laugh when they encounter problems related to language production and comprehension. This functional expansion in relation to premorbid occurrence is evidence that laughter fits the definition of compensatory behaviour utilized to overcome communication barriers. Certain conversational skills are preserved in individuals with dementia, but due to their cognitive impairment these resources are utilized in a slightly different way than by healthy speakers.
Posted: 2008-11-25More...

The negotiation of the problem statement in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy which is characterized by being highly structured, outcomes focused and time limited. The literature concerning CBT is extensive but it has primarily focused on the outcomes of therapy with limited qualitative studies investigating the process of CBT. In this present study we investigate how the CBT model is implemented in therapeutic interaction through a focus on the conversion of the client’s problem into CBT terms and its ultimate articulation as the problem statement. The problem statement is an integral part of the form of CBT studied from which the subsequent therapy is derived. Drawing on theme-oriented discourse analysis we examine the first two sessions of the treatment of one client using a number of tools derived from discourse and conversation analysis. This case study was drawn from a larger corpus of the CBT treatment of ten clients. The expertise of the therapist in applying the generic CBT model of therapy to the client’s particular problem is a focus of this study.
Posted: 2010-10-22More...

Moral accounts and membership categorization in primary care medical interviews

Although the link between health and morality has been well established, few studies have examined how issues of morality emerge and are addressed in primary care medical encounters. This paper addresses the need to examine morality as it is (re)constructed in everyday health care interactions. A Membership Categorisation Analysis of 96 medical interviews reveals how patients orient to particular membership categories and distance themselves from others as a means of accounting (Buttny 1993; Scott and Lyman 1968) for morally questionable health behaviours. More specifically, this paper examines how patients use membership categorisations in order to achieve specific social identity(ies) (Schubert et al. 2009) through two primary strategies: defensive detailing and prioritizing alternative membership categories. Thus, this analysis tracks the emergence of cultural and moral knowledge about social life as it takes place in primary care medical encounters.
Posted: 2012-02-24More...

Establishing mutual understanding in interaction: An analysis of conversational repair in psychiatric consultations

The therapeutic relationship is the greatest predictor of treatment outcome, yet its relationship to communication is largely unevaluated. This study explored how psychiatrists and people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia establish mutual understanding in naturalistic communication, and associations with the therapeutic relationship, patient satisfaction and symptoms. In conversation analysis, the concept of repair focuses on how participants in interaction create mutual understanding and address misunderstanding. A standardized protocol measuring the frequency of repair was applied to 15 outpatient consultations. Correlations between repair and the therapeutic relationship, patients’ experience of the consultation and symptoms were explored. Patients made most effort to make their contribution understandable, whereas psychiatrists made most effort to repair misunderstandings. The more positively psychiatrists rated the relationship, the more effort they made to understand patients. Although psychiatrists’ efforts were not associated with patients’ overall view of the relationship, patients felt better emotionally, despite, feeling less understood. Psychiatrists used fewer repairs when patients were more symptomatic. Both parties prioritized understanding similar topics but psychiatrists focused more on medication and patients on voices. Quantifying repair offers a new way of analyzing how mutual understanding is established in interaction, and links communication processes with treatment outcomes.
Posted: 2010-01-16More...


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