chapter  1
The practitioner–patient relationship: doctor–patient encounters
Pages 32

A signi cant amount of medical practice takes place through verbal interchange. Indeed it is no exaggeration to claim that, over the last three millennia, healthcare has principally been conducted through some kind of face-to-face encounter between patient and health expert (Brown et al., 2006: 81). Yet it is only relatively recently – with the advent of sophisticated tape and video recording (technical advancements that allow researchers to capture naturally occurring spontaneous talk with exceptional degrees of precision) that the patient-provider exchange has been studied in any signi cant linguistic detail. With the availability of detailed transcripts that faithfully account for not only the content of conversation, but also the precise way in which such content is articulated (including details such as pitch, speed, pauses, false starts, repetitions, overlaps and interruptions), researchers have brought to bear a range of broadly discourse-based approaches on the medical consultation, resulting in a proliferation of studies that have contributed to our understanding of the patientprovider exchange.