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Searching for the Patient’s Presence in Medical Case Reports


Magdalena Zabielska

The book addresses the issue of the patient’s presence in specialist medical publications in the context of a patient-centered approach to medical practice. The author combines both quantitative and qualitative approaches in order to analyze the discourse about the patient in one of the oldest medical genres, case reports. She traces textual references to patients throughout the reports to show that their nature and frequency depend both on the structure of the genre and the context of the production of these texts. The author touches upon the topical issue that although specialist communication may seem to exclude patients, it does not mean it does not concern them. Indeed, they are written about and it appears critical how this is done.
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Conclusion: Summarizing the achievements of the work


The aim of the present work has been to examine critically patient imaging in the genre of medical case report, both with respect to the content as well as the form, i.e., the lexico-grammatical configurations of the texts. The rationale behind this research aim has been the apparent lack of studies of textual construction of the patient persona as opposed to the growing interest in doctor-patient interaction aiming at an improvement in this area. It is the present author’s belief that medical texts for professionals are also worth linguistic attention as they project the image of the patient in Western medicine. Theory-wise, the present work is an example of a discourse analysis in which texts are studied with reference to the context of their production, both in terms of genre-specific functions they play and social practices in which they are used. The aim of drawing on and combining these two approaches has been to offer a complex view of patient imaging in case reports as contextualized in the biomedical model of medicine and written according to genre-specific requirements.

In order to study patient imaging in medical case reports, a corpus of 56 texts from British and American journals was examined for direct references to the patients described there. The references were then categorized and analyzed both from the quantitative and qualitative perspectives. The approach to patient imaging adopted in the present work was not intended to concentrate solely on the depersonalizing or objectifying examples but to see their...

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