Health communication extends from patient-doctor interactions and inter-professional encounters to media campaigns and patient-patient interactions on social media. While research has shown that effective communication is an indispensable part of delivering quality healthcare, technological advances in modes of communication, together with increasingly complex social environments, are presenting professionals and patients alike with multiple challenges. This course pursues two main interrelated objectives. First, it is aimed at introducing the students to one specific area of inquiry within the so-called ‘applied linguistics of professions’ (Sarangi, 2005). The students will learn about different analytical approaches to healthcare communication, namely micro- and macro-perspectives on the analyses of spoken and written discourse data. Second, it is intended as a course with a more ‘practical’ aim of developing the students’ understanding that effective health communication strategies may significantly improve the healthcare quality and outcomes. To achieve these two objectives, the students will engage with authentic data from a variety of healthcare sites (from primary care encounters to specialist clinics to genetic counseling) to examine some critical issues of health communication such as patient-centredness and shared decision-making between healthcare professionals and patients; delivery of accurate and accessible healthcare information; communicating health risk and uncertainty. Students will also undertake group work using health communication data that they select for themselves.
- Approaches to healthcare communication research
- Discourse analysis and healthcare communication
- What counts as data in health communication research?
- Working with spoken data
- Narratives of illness experience
- Stigma and social dimensions of illness experience
- Health communication in the public sphere
- Collaborating with healthcare institutions
- Central themes of discourse analytic research in healthcare
- Ethical dimensions and reflexivity of research
- Culture and healthcare communication
- To introduce the students to main analytic approaches to the analysis of authentic health communication data from a range of healthcare sites;
- To develop the students' critical awareness of the key issues of modern healthcare communication;
- To develop the students' appreciation of the impact of globalization of professional workforce and 'superdiversity' of patient population on healthcare deliveries;
- To enable the students to engage in the analysis of healthcare discourses using the theoretical foundations acquired in the course.
- Lectures (2 hours a week) will introduce fundamental concepts and frameworks, including methods for engaging in data analysis.
- Tutorials (1 hour every week or fortnight depending on class size) will provide opportunities for students to engage in exercises and discussion.
Assessment for the course is through coursework and group presentations. This is made up of three assignments:
- 500 word outline plan for Assignment 2
- 2500 word essay including data analysis – students may select from a choice of data. This will involve close engagement with authentic data, identifying and defining themes, locating relevant literature and communicating the results in a comprehensive and logical manner.
Charmaz, K. (1990). ‘Discovering’ chronic illness: using grounded theory. Social Science & Medicine 30 (11): 1161-1172.
Mishler, EG. (1984). Routine practice: The voice of medicine and the structure of unremarkable interviews. In The Discourse of Medicine: Dialectics of Medical Interviews, 59-93. Norwood, N.J.: Ablex.
Sarangi, S. (2005). The conditions and consequences of professional discourse studies. Journal of Applied Linguistics 2 (3): 371-394.
Sarangi, S. (2010). Practicing discourse analysis in healthcare settings. In I. Bourgeault, R. DeVries and R. Dingwall (eds.) The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Methods in Health Research, 397-416. London: Sage.
Silverman, D. (1987). Coercive interpretation in the clinic: the social construction of the Down’s Syndrome child, 136-157. In Communication and Medical Practice: Social Relations in the Clinic. London: Sage.
Waitzkin, H. (1991). The Politics of Medical encounters: How Doctors and Patients deal with Social Problems. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.
Other references will be provided by the lecturer after each class.