Clinical Positioning Space: Analyzing Doctor-Patient Relationships in the Outpatient Oncological Clinic

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In this article, we present a case study of residents’ clinical experiences and communication in outpatient oncology consultations. We apply positioning theory, a dynamic alternative to role theory, to investigate how oncology residents and patients situate themselves as persons with rights and duties. Drawing from seven qualitative interviews and six days of observation, we investigate the residents’ social positioning and their conversations with patients or supervisors. Our focus is on how (a) relational shifts in authority depend on each situation and its participants; (b) storylines establish acts and positions and narratively frame what participants can expect from a medical consultation viewed as a social episode; and (c) the positioning of rights and duties can lead to misunderstandings and frustrations. We conclude that residents and patients locate themselves in outpatient conversations as participants who jointly produce and are produced by patients’ and nurses’ storylines about who should take responsibility for treatment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQualitative Health Research
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2014

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