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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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Empowering Patients to Self-Care in Web-mediated Communication: A Multimodal Discourse Analysis

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1.  Introduction

The last few decades have seen a plethora of discourse-based research studies in the health/medicine and social care domains, emphasizing the growing importance of language and communication. These studies have been informed by conversational, pragmatics, sociolinguistics and other analytical perspectives in different settings (e.g. Sarangi/Roberts 1999; Candlin/Candlin 2002; Sarangi/Clarke 2002; Gwyn 2002; Garzone/Rudvin 2003; Roberts/Sarangi 2005; Gotti/ Salager-Meyer 2006; Heritage/Maynard 2006; Garzone/Sarangi 2007; Iedema 2007; Sarangi 2005; Stivers 2007; Candlin/Sarangi 2011), and have provided a rich set of (quantitative and qualitative) methodological tools for a broader understanding of healthcare discourse. Although such reviewed studies are not exhaustive, they do provide a variety of invaluable and stimulating insights into the construction of health care and its social and professional practices.

However, the World Wide Web is rapidly changing the landscape of health and medical communication, exemplifying a globally-networked, multicultural and multilingual information environment with vast possibilities. Widespread access to healthcare information is increasingly provided over the Web, and numerous publicly and privately-run websites exist to enable diverse users to seek out information about syndromes and diseases, drugs, nutrition, and fitness, by constituting what has been referred to as a growing ‘medialized world’ of health resources (Richardson 2005: 1). In this world of ‘free-for-all’ Web health resources, where information utilization by individuals (patients) is likely to address the influences impacting on their health education, the increased ← 213 | 214 → public use of healthcare websites supports the idea of “the increased level of patient literacy with...

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