23.09.21 Lecture: Anne E. C. White


Dr. Anne E. C. White is an assistant professor in the School of Public Health at the University of California San Diego. She received her AB in Sociology from Princeton University and PhD in Sociology from University of California Los Angeles. Her research focuses on doctor-patient communication and its impact on participant experiences and health outcomes. She uses a mixed-method approach combining Conversation Analysis, ethnography, qualitative interviews and statistical analysis. Dr. White was a postdoctoral fellow at the University California Davis Medical Center and the Sanford Institute for Empathy and Compassion (at UCSD) where she studied how chronic pain patients negotiate opioid prescriptions during primary care visits. As a medical sociologist, she is particularly interested in rural healthcare settings and inequities in access to medical care. She has published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, Cancer Medicine, Health Communication, Social Science and Medicine, Qualitative Health Research, Patient Education and Counseling, BMC Family Practice, Language in Society, Language and Communication, and Social Psychology Quarterly.


A conversation analysis approach to studying doctor-patient communication: Navigating difficult patient discussions


The quality of healthcare communication can impact both patient experiences and outcomes. This talk highlights aspects of communication that can be systematically examined using Conversation Analysis (CA) and provide guidance about how researchers can incorporate CA into healthcare studies. CA is a qualitative method for studying naturally occurring communication by analyzing recurrent, systematic practices of verbal and nonverbal behavior. CA involves examining audio- or video-recorded conversations and their transcriptions to identify practices speakers use to communicate and interpret behavior. I will explain what distinguishes CA from other methods that study communication and highlight three accessible CA approaches that researchers can use in their research design, analysis, or implementation of communication interventions. Specifically, these approaches focus on how talk is produced (specific words, framing, and syntax), by whom, and when it occurs in the conversation. I will then discuss three conversation analytic medical studies that highlight difficult social actions physicians are routinely faced with during patient visits: 1. responding to patient requests for more opioid medications, 2. correcting patient misconceptions, and 3. reassuring (versus dismissing) patient concerns when there is a no problem diagnosis.

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