Macquarie University
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Patient-centred advanced cancer care: a systemic functional linguistic analysis of oncology consultations with advanced cancer patients

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posted on 2022-03-28, 20:05 authored by Neda Karimi
This thesis provides a linguistic description of the practice of patient-centred care based on a corpus of 69 transcribed oncology consultations with advanced cancer patients. Using tools from Halliday’s systemic functional linguistics, the thesis identifies ways in which personhood and patient-centredness is realized semiotically in a series of papers. First, a systematic literature review provides an overview of the previous research on the linguistic operationalisation of patient-centredness and the theoretical approaches applied. This is followed by three types of analyses including (1) looking at the nature of the social context around and enacted by the discourse of oncology consultation and analysing a sub-corpus of10 consultations; (2) looking at how the patients identify themselves and construct their experience and sense of self during the consultations; and (3) considering how two contrasting oncologists in the sample construct their role and that of the patient through their answers to the questions asked by the patients and their companions. The findings suggest that a patient-centred practice involves the enactment of a ‘facilitating’ role by the oncologist. Through this role, the oncologist facilitates a new doctor-patient relationship in which the degree of ‘classification’ and ‘insulation’ (Bernstein, 1990) between them is reduced. The data shows that this is done by considering and discussing the patients’ personal circumstances and their personal lives as affected by the illness as well as through informing the patients about their body, their illness, their options, rights and entitlements, and generally through enabling them to be an informed patient who is the centre of healthcare. Such practice acknowledges that the dying patients are semiotically agentive. It also appreciates the patient’s experience of maintaining a sense of normalcy in the face of a life-limiting illness. A patient-centred practice is further characterised with elaborated reasoning to provide more information and precise information to the conscious and semiotically agentive patient.



Theoretical thesis. Includes bibliographical references

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Annabelle Lukin

Additional Supervisor 1

Alison Moore


Copyright Neda Karimi 2017. Copyright disclaimer:






1 online resource (ix, 179 pages) tables

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