Trust, talk and the dictaphone

Tracing the discursive accomplishment of trust in a surgical consultation

Catherine O'Grady*, Maria R. Dahm, Peter Roger, Lynda Yates

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


Using discourse analytical methods, this article examines the interactional accomplishment of trust. Focusing on a case study drawn from a corpus of 28 surgical consultations collected in a gastro-intestinal clinic, it traces the trust-building process in a specific, communicatively challenging encounter where the patient is seeking a second opinion following an operation that she deems unsuccessful. Discourse analytical findings make visible the doctor's strategic interactional work to build interpersonal trust with the patient and to regain her trust in the surgical profession. This work extends beyond interaction with the patient to include dictation of a letter to the referring doctor in the patient's presence. Close analysis of the encounter reveals how this co-constructed consultation letter is deployed to strengthen the fragile patient-doctor trust engendered thus far. The article therefore provides insights into the discursive processes of trust building that could potentially be of considerable practical relevance to the medical profession.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-83
Number of pages19
JournalDiscourse and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • Applied conversational analysis
  • consultation letters
  • discourse analysis
  • interactional socio-linguistics
  • medicine
  • surgical consultations
  • trust

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Trust, talk and the dictaphone: Tracing the discursive accomplishment of trust in a surgical consultation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this