Latest Issue: Vol 14, No 1 (2017) RSS2 logo

Communication & Medicine

Editor Srikant Sarangi Aalborg University, Denmark

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.

The journal is adopted by The COMET Society which hosts annual conferences every July. 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.

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.

Indexing & Abstracting/Metrics
CiteScore 2016: 0.35
SJR 2015: 0.176
SNIP 2015: 0.264

H-index: 14 (2015)
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
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


Cardiologists’ experiences and perceptions of patient involvement and communication related to shared decision-making regarding atrial fibrillation treatment

Objective: To feel involved in decisions about atrial fibrillation (AF) treatment, patients need supportive communication from cardiologists. Shedding light on cardiologists’ perceptions of patient involvement in AF care settings is thus of importance. We examine (1) how cardiologists describe patient involvement and communication related to shared decisionmaking regarding AF treatment, and (2) their perceptions of efforts to involve patients in the treatment decisions. Methods: Ten cardiologists were interviewed in four Swedish hospitals. A qualitative content analysis was performed on the interview data. Results: Cardiologists’ perceptions of patient involvement in treatment decisions are framed in terms of (1) ideology, (2) experience, and (3) responsibility. Conclusion: By taking into account patients’ feelings in the consultations, and by actively encouraging patients to be involved, the cardiologists contributed to patient involvement. Practice Implications: One key to improving compliance with legislation aimed at increasing patient involvement in treatment decisions could lie in paying attention to physician–patient communication and the conditions for patient involvement in decision-making about treatment.
Posted: 2017-06-15More...

The understanding of medical abbreviations across different medical departments in a South African hospital setting

Doctors use medical abbreviations to communicate with colleagues from other medical departments. Medical abbreviations save time, but they can be misinterpreted and lead to treatment errors. This study evaluated the understanding of common medical abbreviations in the Departments of Oncology, Surgery, Gynaecology, Paediatrics and Internal Medicine at an academic hospital in Bloemfontein, South Africa in 2012. In this cross-sectional study, questionnaires consisting of 35 medical abbreviations were distributed to specialists, registrars, medical officers and interns. Doctors’ experiences of communication problems due to abbreviations were documented. The total mean score was 61.2%. Oncology abbreviations were least understood (29.1%), while Internal Medicine abbreviations were well known (74.4%). There were significant differences between doctors from different departments, with Oncology scoring the highest (71.6%) and Internal Medicine and Paediatric scoring the lowest (56.0% and 55.4%, respectively). Interns (63.2%) performed significantly better than specialists (57.2%). Non-standard abbreviations were poorly understood (40.2%) compared to standard abbreviations (70.8%). The findings suggest that the understanding of medical abbreviations across medical departments is below standard. Use of abbreviations in this multilingual environment may contribute to poor patient care. Medical terms should be written in full, the use of non-standard medical abbreviations discouraged, and abbreviations only used when they are widely understood and accepted as standard.
Posted: 2017-05-18More...

Language complexity differs between doctors and patients during contraceptive counseling: A mixed-method study

The purpose of this study was to assess differences in language complexity for physician and patient speech and describe differences in speech content and literacy for medical office visits related to contraception. In a cross-sectional, mixed-methods study, we invited clinic faculty, residents, and consecutive patients to participate in simulated clinical encounters. Two investigators independently transcribed the recordings of these encounters. We calculated Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level (FKRL) and Flesch Reading Ease (FRE) scores as proxy measures for language complexity related to physician and patient speech. We also performed content analysis of the office visit transcriptions. Thirty-one of 33 physicians and 51 of 61 patients participated in the study, yielding response rates of 94% and 84%, respectively. Student Independent t-tests revealed differences in language complexity for providers and patients. On average, physicians spoke at an Eighth-Grade (13 to 14 years old) reading level, while patients spoke at a Fourth-Grade (nine to ten years old) level. Physicians gave primary importance to physiologic mechanisms. Patients focused on efficacy and side effects. We interpret the findings from the theoretical perspective of language and culture as inseparable components of communication. Both language and culture communicate, but at different levels of analysis. We explore both dimensions of communication with the same data set. Although this paper is theoretically exploratory, we believe it broadens inquiry of language use in medicine for subsequent investigation.
Posted: 2017-03-10More...

Quantitative metaphor usage patterns in Chinese psychotherapy talk

The study of metaphor in psychotherapy is undergoing a ‘contextual turn’, shifting emphasis from global mechanisms underlying metaphors and therapeutic change to their naturally occurring properties in therapist–patient interaction. While there have been rich qualitative and contextual descriptions of metaphors in psychotherapy, complementary quantitative accounts of metaphor usage patterns over larger amounts of talk have been less forthcoming. This paper reports metaphor usage patterns as associations between key contextual variables which characterize metaphors in a dataset of Chinese psychotherapy talk. A total of 2893 metaphor vehicle terms from 29.5 hours of talk were coded for SPEAKER, FUNCTION, TARGET, PHASE OF THERAPY, and DYAD. A loglinear analysis revealed significant higher order associations (DYAD*TARGET*FUNCTION*PHASE; DYAD*FUNCTION*PHASE*SPEAKER; TARGET*FUNCTION*SPEAKER), discussed as usage patterns which bear implications for the psychotherapeutic application of metaphor. Limitations and future research directions are discussed.
Posted: 2017-03-10More...

How is family interaction analysed as a risk factor for schizophrenia? A cross-method comparison

In this paper, we compare two methodological approaches – Conversation Analysis (CA) and the Communication Deviance (CD) Scale – in detecting confusing family interaction, which is considered one of the risk factors for schizophrenia. CA is a method for identifying and describing actions in interaction, whereas the CD Scale presents the criteria for identifying communication defects in the field of schizophrenia research. Our aim is to determine whether the approaches resonate with and could complement each other in analysing the same interactional data – i.e., a total of 10.5 hours of audio-recorded Finnish family interaction in a psychological test in which the participants negotiate on mutual Rorschach inkblot interpretations. The data include 585 proposals by the family members. Here we focus on three types of proposal sequences (140 in all) where a proposal is not followed by an acceptance or a rejection. We have earlier shown that from the CA perspective, the family members orient to the discontinuity of these sequences by pursuing an explicit response to a proposal, but very rarely make the ‘problematic’ nature of the interaction visible to each other or the analyst. In the present paper, we will show that the CD Scale finds communication defects in the sequences under analysis but that the defects do not primarily involve the discontinuity of the sequence. Thus CA and the CD Scale look at interaction from different perspectives and disagree on what is considered an interactional problem.
Posted: 2017-03-07More...

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...

Improving patient information leaflets: Developing and applying an evaluative model of patient centeredness for text

The purpose of this paper is to present an evaluative model of patient-centredness for text and to illustrate how this can be applied to patient information leaflets (PILs) that accompany medication in the European Union. Patients have criticized PILs for sidelining their experiences, knowledge and affective needs, and denying their individuality. The health communication paradigm of patient-centredness provides valuable purchase on these issues, taking its starting point in the dignity and integrity of the patient as a person. Employing this evaluative model involves two stages. First, a Foucauldian Discourse Analysis is performed of sender and receiver and of the main discourses in PILs. These aspects are then evaluated using the perspectives of patient-centredness theory relating to the medical practitioner, patient and content. The evaluative model is illustrated via a PIL for medication for depression and panic attacks. Evaluation reveals a preponderance of biomedical statements, with a cluster of patient-centred statements primarily relating to the construction of the patient. The paper contributes a new method and evaluative approach to PIL and qualitative health research, as well as outlining a method that facilitates the investigation of interdiscursivity, a recent focus of critical genre analysis.
Posted: 2013-12-10More...



COMET 2018

The University of Birmingham are pleased to be hosting the 2018 Communication, Medicine, and Ethics Conference (COMET), 25-27 June 2018.  
Posted: 2017-08-14 More...

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