Patient-centred discourse in sexual and reproductive health consultations

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Discourse and Communication, 2015, 9 (3), pp. 275 - 292
Issue Date:
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© The Author(s) 2015 There is an increasing recognition internationally of the critical impact of communication within healthcare. The link between ineffective communication, patient dissatisfaction and critical incidents is well established. Family Planning New South Wales (FPNSW) has sought to address patient-centred care and communication in its policy platform. This article reports on research conducted within FPNSW, which analysed the discourse features that constituted effective doctor–patient1 communication in sexual and reproductive health consultations. The principal aim of the research was to understand how effectively messages were conveyed and received and to what degree patients were active participants in their own sexual healthcare. Analysed consultations were characterised by extremely high levels of communicative competence on the part of the doctors who integrated medical expertise with the development of interpersonal relationships with patients, thus positioning patients as active contributors to the consultations and to decisions about their ongoing treatment. The detailed linguistic analysis identified characteristic features of patient-centred communication that are essential to patient-centred care. These interactions demonstrate that communicating care is just as important as delivering care and involves a drawing together of the medical and the interpersonal in consultations. The article details strategies for interweaving medical knowledge and establishing rapport that can inform practitioner communication practices across different healthcare contexts.
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