Who gets to talk? An alternative framework evaluating companion effects in geriatric triads

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Most studies evaluating companion effects on medical triadic interaction focus on the doctors' part, e.g., how the companion's presence diverts doctors' attention away from the patient. In contrast to this mainstream approach, the current research proposes an alternative framework by focusing on the patient parties - especially on how companion participation reshapes the discourse sequences where patient parties provide information, and how it affects patient full turns and priority in providing complete first-hand information to doctors. By examining fifteen geriatric triadic conversations collected in a teaching hospital in southern Taiwan, this proposed framework concludes that in the companion's presence, the information providing sequences are restructured into eight patterns, among which sole information provider is preferred to joint providers. Furthermore, the more companions participate in providing information, the less patients by themselves volunteer information or respond to doctors' questions prior to companions' verbal involvement. A more striking companion effect shows that even in the triads with a low-participation companion, whenever the companion does participate, the patient rarely has a full turn or priority to complete an information unit. The patient's turns are either taken, are simultaneous with, or cut-off by the companion's participation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-49
Number of pages13
JournalCommunication and Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007 May 29

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Social Sciences(all)


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