Macquarie University
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The discursive construction of treatment decisions in the management of HIV disease

posted on 2022-03-28, 15:09 authored by Alison Rotha Moore
The quality of doctor-patient communication has been shown to influence treatment uptake, adherence and effectiveness in HIV medicine and elsewhere. Increasingly, it is considered essential that doctors and patients jointly participate in decisions concerning treatment. There is a growing body of literature describing joint decisionmaking and suggesting guidelines for its practice. Few of these studies, however, relate their descriptions of medical decision-making as a social process to the ways in which patterns of verbal interaction realize or foreclose on joint decision-making. -- Dominant models of medical decision-making view shared decision-making as a midpoint between enlightened paternalism and informed choice. Based on a corpus of HIV consultations audio-recorded in Sydney in the late 1990s, this thesis argues that it can be better modelled as a particular type of social process, which differs across a number of dimensions from other styles of medical decision-making, specifiable as contextual parameters of meaning. The thesis then identifies ways in which specific discursive practices realize these contextual parameters. -- A major component of the thesis focuses on agency, and a model is presented in the form of a socio-semantic network, drawing on work by van Leeuwen (1996) and others, which relates a range of grammatical features, not only transitivity patterns, to ways of construing social agency. The thesis then considers the way in which doctors and patients mobilise these and other resources for bringing together potentially conflicting points of view in framing and articulating treatment decisions. Here I draw on notions of mutual alignment (e.g., Goffman 1981) but expand the analysis of what is aligned to account for speakers' implicit discourse orientation, as well as more overt markers. -- Findings emphasise the relationship between representing and enacting agentive roles; the importance of doctors and patients mutually projecting each other's voices; and the variable and iterative character of shared decision-making. The research demonstrates how doctors and patients negotiate a complex, interactionally and symbolically mediated agency, and shows that patients often take the lead in developing more collaborative decision-making practice. There are still institutionally and socially determined limits to the degree of control patients may exercise within the consultation, many of which are of course well founded.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Models of shared decision-making in medicine -- Framing the study -- The analytic goals of modelling agency -- The context of treatment decision-making in HIV -- Agency and alignment -- Study conclusions and implications.


Bibliography: p. 397-424

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, Division of Linguistics & Psychology, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Dept. of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Christopher N. Candlin

Additional Supervisor 1

David Butt


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Alison Rotha Moore 2003.




xvii, 533, [22] p. ill

Former Identifiers

mq:6468 1294080