Patient involvement and language barriers: Problems of agreement or understanding?

Journal article by Anne Marie Dalby Landmark, Jan Svennevig, Jennifer Gerwing and Pål Gulbrandsen in Patient Education and Counseling, volume 100, issue 6, 2017.

Patient Education and Counseling front page


This study aims to explicate efforts for realizing patient-centeredness (PCC) and involvement (SDM) in a difficult decision-making situation. It investigates what communicative strategies a physician used and the immediate, observable consequences for patient participation.


From a corpus of videotaped hospital encounters, one case in which the physician and patient used Norwegian as lingua franca was selected for analysis using conversation analysis (CA). Secondary data were measures of PCC and SDM.


Though the physician did extensive interactional work to secure the patient's understanding and acceptance of a treatment recommendation, his persistent attempts did not succeed in generating the patient's participation. In ratings of PCC and SDM, this case scored well above average.


Despite the fact that this encounter displays some of the 'best actual practice' of PCC and SDM within the corpus, our analysis of the interaction shows why the strategies were insufficient in the context of a language barrier and possible disagreement.

Practice implications

When facing problems of understanding, agreement and participation in treatment decision-making, relatively good patient centered skills may not suffice. Knowledge about the interactional realization of key activities is needed for developing training targeted at overcoming such challenges.

Access the article on the homepage of Patient Education and Counseling.

Published Nov. 20, 2017 6:45 PM - Last modified Nov. 20, 2017 6:46 PM