Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, Vol 12, No 3 (2015)

Patient participation, authority and understanding – A case study of communication patterns in a geriatric consultation

Ulla Hellström Muhli, Barry Saferstein, Eleni Siouta
Issued Date: 28 Aug 2019


Objectives: The objectives are to examine communication patterns in the discourse between a female geriatric patient and a pharmacist concerning use of an inhaler in order to understand the communicative components of consultation interaction that support the patient learning and demonstrate understanding of medical information.

Methods: This article is a qualitative case study from a project that video recorded 40 clinical consultations. The case was selected as a representative example of the use of material and visual information resources during a clinical consultation between a patient and a pharmacist in a geriatric setting.

Results: The patient’s understanding of the clinician’s medical advice did not result simply from repeating the clinician’s demonstration. Rather, the patient’s discussion and manipulation of the inhaler produced a communication pattern that increased her authority over topics and forms of expression.

Conclusion: A combination of verbal, visual and tactile information resources produced pattterns of interaction that enhanced the patient’s participation, authority and understanding of medical information.

Practice implications: Many consultations can incorporate use of visual and material information resources to improve patients’ participation in treatment decisions.

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DOI: 10.1558/jalpp.34131


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