Patient responses to diagnosis in surgeon-patient consultations

Sarah J. White, Maria Stubbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


How diagnosis fits within the overall activity structure of surgical consultations remains under-researched. We set out to contribute to this developing area of research with a particular focus on responses to diagnosis as an achievement of patient agency. We identified 26 diagnostic sequences in a collection of 35 video recorded surgical consultations and examined these in detail using conversation analysis. The activity of diagnosis and the transition to treatment recommendation appear to be structured somewhat differently in surgeon-patient consultations than has been reported for primary care settings. In particular, patient responses to diagnosis are more frequent and more likely to be extended. The analysis provides evidence that both parties orient to surgeons’ accountability for their own diagnostic reasoning, and also the medical authority of the referring doctor and the subjective experience of the patient. In delivering the diagnosis, the surgeon must be cognizant of the opinions of both the patient and the referring doctor, which may align to a greater or lesser extent with their own diagnosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)608-617
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number3
Early online date9 Sep 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


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