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Insights Into Medical Communication

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Edited By Maurizio Gotti, Stefania Maria Maci and Michele Sala

This book analyses the subject of medical communication from a range of innovative perspectives, covering a broad spectrum of approaches and procedures that are particularly significant in this field.
In this volume, medical communication is analyzed from various viewpoints: not only from a merely linguistic angle, with a focus on the description of the genres used in medical and healthcare contexts, but also from a social and cultural standpoint, with an emphasis both on the doctor-patient relationship and on the social relevance of the other types of communicative links existing between the many communities involved in this type of interaction.
The study of some of the main fields typical of medical communication has highlighted a considerable variety of themes, data and research methods which are clearly representative of the eclectic interest in this specific domain and of the wide range of approaches developed for its investigation.
As the various chapters show, linguistic analysis proves to be highly applicable to textualizations involving multiple interactions and practices, and several kinds of participants, including different healthcare professionals, trainees and patients.
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‘Health slips as the financial crisis grips’: Tensions and Variations in Medical Discourse

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1.  Introduction

In 1992 the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), published an article (Evidence Based Medicine Working Group 1992) dealing with the rise of a new medical practice – evidence-based medicine – which integrates individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence deriving from systematic research (Sackett et al. 1996). This article was in some respects foretelling, since such a new paradigm in medical practice was claimed to be a consequence of the fact that medicine would “continue to face an exploding volume of literature, rapid introduction of new technologies, deepening concerns about burgeoning medical costs, and increasing attention to the quality and outcomes of medical care” (Evidence Based Medicine Working Group 1992: 2424). New skills would be required, such as efficient literature searching and the application of formal rules of evidence in evaluating the clinical literature. Indeed, such systematic analysis of medical protocols gave rise to studies and their relevant publications – all of them being evidence-based rather than narrative-based medical investigations, disease- and doctor-oriented examinations relying on randomized clinical trials and scientific research (Bensing 2000). At the same time, concerns about medical costs increased and greater attention was paid to medical research quality resulting in outstanding publication. The JAMA predictions regarding the increase in medical literature were indeed confirmed in 2005 when the editor of the British Journal of Plastic Surgery claimed that “these are times of rapid development all around, as e-publishing takes off and the medical publishing market globalises” (Kay 2005: 1041)...

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