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Insights Into Medical Communication


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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Patient (Mis)understanding of Prescription Drug Ads in Social Media: Multimodal Discourse Analysis of eDTCA


1.  Introduction

For decades before the 1970s, the promotion of drugs and medical devices was exclusively directed to doctors and “traditionally, the advertising of prescription drugs was limited to medical journals or health care trade publications aimed at physicians” (Hunt 1998: 3). During the 1970s, efforts were made to secure legal rights for patients to be informed about their treatment options. As Donohue (2006: 661) points out, “the pharmaceutical promotion of prescription drugs to consumers was made possible by the rise of consumer-oriented medicine following the social movements for patients’ and consumers’ rights”. While prescription drug advertising became more patient-oriented, patient safety itself continued to be ensured through patient-expert interaction and credible sources (Plastina 2012). On these grounds, efforts were made in the mid-1990s to secure consumer rights in managed care (Rothman 2001). As a result, an exponential growth in direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA)1 was witnessed.

The promotion of drugs directed to consumers through television, radio, billboards and print media therefore marked a milestone in the paradigm shift from the traditional provider-centred medical model towards patient-centred medicine. From this point onwards, decision-making would no longer rest in the hands of the physician alone (Sacristán 2013). ← 189 | 190 →

By the late 1990s, a more diffuse change was made possible by advances in information technology, which enabled patients to inform themselves and, therefore, to become more involved in medical decision-making (Donohue 2006). Currently, Internet and social media advertising are becoming an increasingly powerful...

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