Dealing with numbers: Nurses informing doctors and patients about test results

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Nurses need to adapt to various interactional situations and design their talk for different recipients. One essential communicative task for nurses is to transmit information on test and measurement results both to the patient and to the physician. This article examines how nurses design their talk on numerical values according to the recipient and the activity. The nurse can deliver the information either plainly through numbers or by formulating some type of qualitative description of the value. The data consist of 7.5 hours of video-recorded interaction in a Finnish hospital. Using conversation analysis, we demonstrate how the institutional roles and the ongoing activity sequence affect how nurses formulate their talk. When nurses discuss results with their patients, they typically use qualitative descriptions, whereas when they talk with doctors, the typical turn involves numeric information. It will be demonstrated that nurses construct their professional identity involving both care and medical expertise through their linguistic-interactional choices.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDiscourse Studies
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)180-198
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 6121 Languages
  • Conversation analysis
  • hospital interaction
  • numeric information
  • nursing
  • CARE

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