Research Seminars

Research seminars

Doctor-patient interaction at a Jordanian university hospital: A conversation analysis study

Rula Abu-Elrob (PhD student University of Huddersfield)

Wednesday 30th January 2019

This study is concerned with analysing medical talk from a conversation analysis view point through identifying fundamental patterns that underpin these medical consultations in terms of the overall structure of the interactions and the turns that make up each segment. Attention is paid to those parts where the participants orient to the medical agenda and where they depart from it (referred to as ‘side talk’).

Medical talk has been studied in the context of different countries but not in Jordan. Investigating the patterns in Jordanian medical talk is important to discover the culturally specific features of Jordanian consultations and similarities with consultations in other countries. Thus, analysis focused on how consultations are opened, how doctors elicit the necessary information, how diagnosis and treatment are managed and how the interaction is closed. A lack of studies analysing the medical talk in Arab countries in general and in the Jordanian culture in particular is another reason to provide information about the medical interaction from a CA point of view.

The findings show that the medical phases, of 20 audio recorded consultations from the internal clinic at King Abdullah University Hospital (KAUH), occur in most of the consultations. Each phase had elements that characterise medical talk; some of them are specific to Jordanian medical talk, such as the use of the religious greeting ‘peace upon you’ in the opening phase and the use of ‘invocations’ in the closing phase. Side talk occurred in all the phases of the medical interaction with a higher frequency in the middle of the consultations (presenting the complaint, history- taking, diagnosis and treatment phases) than at the margins (opening and closing). Side talk was found to affect the way sequences are opened and closed, the sequences themselves and the turns that constitute them. These findings provide a compelling resource for (KAUH) and other hospitals to help improve doctors’ communication skills. The use of CA provides hospitals with naturalistic and empirical data in addition to a detailed description of how the effective communication occurs in the medical consultations.