Agency and the telephone: patient contributions to the clinical and interactional agendas in telehealth consultations

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Patient-centredness is central to providing safe care and is achieved, in part, through involving patients in developing the agenda of the consultation. Medical consultations have changed significantly over the last two years as a result of COVID-19 and thus understanding how patients contribute to the clinical and interactional agendas within a telehealth consultation is important to supporting quality care.

Methods: A collection (15) of consultations (in English) between specialists (3) and patients (14) were recorded in a metropolitan gastrointestinal clinic in Australia. These recordings were closely examined using conversation analysis, which focuses on the structural and sequential organisation of interaction.

Results: Patients used a variety of interactional approaches to contribute to the agenda throughout the consultations. This was achieved in collaboration with the doctors, whose responses generally allowed for these contributions. However, there were few doctor-driven, explicit opportunities provided to patients to contribute to the agenda.

Conclusion: Many patients and doctors are adept at managing the interactional challenges of telehealth consultations but there are clear opportunities to extend this advantage to those patients with less agency.

Practice implications: Providing an explicit space for patients to ask questions within the consultation would support those patients less inclined or able to assert themselves during a telehealth consultation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2074-2080
Number of pages7
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • Telehealth
  • Conversation analysis
  • Consultation


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