Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

The Implications of Gender in Patient-Physician Discourse

The Implications of Gender in Patient-Physician Discourse

Mark Hill

This paper examines gender communication styles and the intersecting elements of authority, agency, power, and resistance that emerge in the discourse between physicians and patients. The main focus of this paper is to examine gender differences between male and female physician communication styles and the implications thereof, if any, within the institutional frame of patient-physician discourse.

The research is structured in a manner that examines each contributing aspect of this topic individually then seeks to identify their role and significance as part of the totality of implications. This research examines how gender communication styles within the space of Michael Agars’ theoretical framework of institutional discourse converge to suggest a distinctive pattern that emerges between female physicians and their patients juxtaposed to male physicians and their patients.

A review of how gender communication styles are developed is outlined in the research that relied primarily on Deborah Tannen’s observations on the differences in which males engage other males in conversation, and females engage other females in conversation. Discourse analysis conducted by Nancy Ainsworth-Vaughn on the distinctive communication styles of male physicians and female physicians with their patients during a medical encounter are examined to determine where specifically the patterns of communication diverge and converge.

This research paper concludes that after examination and review of the literature that there are numerous variables that are transposed onto the patient-physician relationship within the framework of institutional discourse. There is evidence to suggest that the convergence of gender communication styles within the configuration of the patient-physician relationship does have broad implications. There appears to be a dual role that female physicians occupy in the arrangement of the patient-physician relationship where competency must established within an institution that has traditionally been dominated by males and must develop strategies to negotiate within their own communication styles.

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April 23, 2010 - Posted by | abstract

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