Communication & Medicine, Vol 12, No 2-3 (2015)

Exploring web-mediated communication: A genre-based linguistic study for new patterns of doctor–patient interaction in online environment

Marianna Zummo
Issued Date: 7 Nov 2016


This paper questions the nature of the communicative event that takes place in online contexts between doctors and web-users, showing computer-mediated linguistic norms and discussing the nature of the participants’ roles. Based on an analysis of 1005 posts occurring between doctors and the users of health service websites, I analyse how doctor–patient communication is affected by the medium and how health professionals overcome issues concerning the virtual medical visit. Results suggest that (a) online medical answers offer a different service from that expected by users, as doctors cannot always fulfill patient requests, and (b) net consultations use aspects of traditional doctor–patient exchange and yet present a language and a style that are affected by the computer-mediated environment. Additionally, it seems that this new form leads to a different model of doctor–patient relationship. The findings are intended to provide new insights into web-based discourse in doctor–patient communication and to demonstrate the emergence of a new style in medical communication.

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DOI: 10.1558/cam.31897


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