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Conversational openings and multiparty disambiguations in doctors' encounters with young patients (and their parents)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Child and Youth Studies.
2014 (English)In: Text & Talk, ISSN 1860-7330, E-ISSN 1860-7349, Vol. 34, no 4, 421-442 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Drawing on a video ethnography at a pediatric unit at a Swedish children's hospital, this study presents analyses of How are you (HAY) routines and problem elicitations. Such conversational openings are ambiguous in that they can either be read as casual greetings, or as genuine questions about the patient's health. Moreover, there is a double ambiguity in that the doctor, at times, employs third person pronouns (e. g., How is Elinor?) or second person plurals (e. g., So how are you doing?) which means that there is a second type of ambiguity, an ambiguity around who is addressed: the child and/or the parent(s). This study also shows that there is a great variation in conversational openings according to the age of the child in that the odds that the doctor might invite the child as a conversational partner increase with the child's age. The preschool children almost never respond to the doctor's HAY, and it does not matter if it is an ambiguous or unambiguous question. If they answer, it is in the form of a minimal uptake or after a whole series of questions. In contrast, the schoolchildren always respond to the doctors' HAY and offer quite elaborate and detailed responses.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 34, no 4, 421-442 p.
Keyword [en]
doctor-patient interactions, greeting routines, problem presentations, pediatrics, children's perspectives, video ethnography
National Category
Communication Studies Languages and Literature
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-108220DOI: 10.1515/text-2014-0010ISI: 000341560500003OAI: diva2:755841


Available from: 2014-10-15 Created: 2014-10-15 Last updated: 2014-10-16Bibliographically approved

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Rindstedt, Camilla
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