Latest Issue: Vol 11, No 3 (2014) RSS2 logo

Communication & Medicine

Editor Srikant Sarangi Aalborg University, Denmark

Please click here to join the COMET Society. COMET 2016 is hosted by the Danish Institute of Humanities and Medicine, Aalborg University, from 4-6 July 2016. For more information, please click here.

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)

Forthcoming Issue 12.1

Simon Cocksedge, Nicky Barr and Corinne Deakin
Katie Ekberg and Markus Reuber
Pertti Hella, Jussi Niemi, Jani-Matti Tirkkonen, Jukka Hintikka, Hannu Koponen, Heli Koivumaa-Honkanen
Evelyn Y. Ho, Chelsea Lalancette and Genevieve Leung
Paula John, Husnara Khanom, Michela Cameli, Rose McCabe and Stefan Priebe
Val Williams and Sue Porter
Alan Zemel and Timothy Koschmann

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


The causal attributions of substance use in clients’ change talk during motivational interviewing

The objective of this study is to provide insights into substance users’ beliefs about the causes of substance use, in order to expand the current understanding of the significance of the client’s change-related talk during motivational interviewing (MI) sessions. In particular, it focuses on what kind of causes the substance-using clients attribute their substance use to in change talk during MI. The analyses are based on videotaped and transcribed data consisting of 98 MI sessions in the Finnish Probation Service. By applying Peirce’s semiotic theory of signs, this study investigates clients’ change talk utterances about causal attributions of substance use as an indexical sign. The results show that the clients attributed various causes to substance use, and that five main causes can be discerned: cultural factors, significant others, personal properties, working life, and lifestyle. The study displays that both sociocultural and psychological causes play an important role in substance users’ change talk. Thus, it is suggested that contextual factors should not be overlooked in MI and other substance use treatment.
Posted: 2016-01-27More...

Communicating in a different culture: Identifying acculturative stress among international students in South Korea

Using online survey data obtained from a total of 174 international students from outside Asia currently attending six universities in South Korea, this study tested hypotheses regarding the relationship between acculturative stress and depression, and the roles of social resources (e.g. social supports from the host country) and psychological resources (e.g. selfesteem and locus of control) in moderating the nature of the stress–depression relation. It was found that international students who reported that they had experienced acculturative stress, mainly due to language barriers and the perception of academic dissimilarities, had higher depression levels than those who reported fewer or no such experiences. This study also revealed a three-way interaction of all variables on depression, indicating that both social and psychological resources played moderating roles in diminishing the strength of the relationship between acculturative stress and depression. Based on those findings, it is argued that more proactive, culturally sensitive communication intervention efforts at South Korean colleges are needed to help the growing numbers of international students cope with acculturative stress and mental illness, which they often encounter in a new culture and education.
Posted: 2016-01-27More...

A comparative analysis of the lay-friendliness of Danish EU patient information leaflets from 2000 to 2012

Since becoming mandatory in the EU in 1992, the patient information leaflet (PIL) has been the subject of an on-going discussion regarding its ability to provide easily understandable information. This study examines whether the lay-friendliness of Danish PILs has improved from 2000 to 2012 according to the Danish consumers. A reproduction of a questionnaire study from 2000 was carried out. The responses of the 2012 survey were compared to those of the 2000 survey and the analysis showed that Danes are less inclined to read the PIL in 2012 compared to 2000 and that the general interest in PILs has decreased. The number of respondents who deem the PIL easy to read has gone down. According to Danish consumers, the lay-friendliness of PILs has not improved from 2000 to 2012 and a very likely explanation could be that the PIL as a genre has become far too regulated and complex to live up to its original intentions. On the basis of the empirical results the article furthermore offers suggestions for practice changes.
Posted: 2016-01-27More...

Strategies of persuasion in offers to participate in cancer clinical trials II: Appeals to altruism

Recent research has suggested that altruism might play a role in patients’ decisions to participate in cancer clinical trials. Little is known, however, about oncologists’ use of appeals to altruism as a persuasive strategy in the face-to-face communication of offers to participate in clinical trials. Based on a corpus of 22 oncology encounters, this exploratory discourse analysis describes oncologists’ appeals to altruism in clinical trial offers and discusses the ethical status of such appeals. Oncologists make appeals to altruism (1) in discussions of trial benefits and (2) in research stories about the progress of medical science through clinical trials. But these appeals were made only rarely in the corpus, indicating that oncologists may not regard appeals to altruism as a persuasive strategy, perhaps because they regard these appeals as ineffective in recruiting patients to participate in clinical trials.
Posted: 2016-01-27More...

Does gender matter in doctor–patient communication during standard gynaecological consultations? An analysis using mixed methods

This paper assesses whether gender plays a role when male and female participants discuss the quality of doctor–patient communication in gynaecological consultations. A European multi-centre study was conducted comprising 259 participants in 35 gender- and country-specific focus groups. In all focus groups, a set of four videotaped Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) consultations was used as a prompt for discussion. The doctors’ ability in communication was assessed by participants’ ratings and by a quantified content analysis of their comments, using a mixed-method approach. Gender analysis was performed applying a set of generalized linear regression models. The findings indicated that gender differences were smaller than expected. The individual ratings of the overall quality of communication were similar for male and female participants, and there were hardly any differences in the content of the discussions. The only two exceptions were that female doctors were criticized more than male doctors when they made impersonal comments and that female participants were more outspoken than men, positively and negatively. The prevalence of gender similarities suggests that doctors’ empathy, support, understanding and pleasantness are highly appreciated by both male and female participants and appear to transcend gender differences.
Posted: 2015-10-14More...

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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Posted: 2016-05-06
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