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Gendered communicative construction of patients in consultation settings

Journal article
Authors Joel Hedegaard
Helene Ahl
Airi Rovio-Johansson
Eleni Siouta
Published in Women & health
Volume 54
Issue 6
Pages 513-529
ISSN 0363-0242
Publication year 2014
Published at Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI)
Pages 513-529
Language en
Keywords communication, consultations, critical discourse analysis, gender equity
Subject categories Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy, Business Administration, Social Psychology, Communication Studies, Gender Studies


This study aimed to explore the communication in consultations between patients and health care staff from a gender perspective. We used 23 tape-recorded consultations between patients with Atrial Fibrillation and 5 nurses and 5 physicians at cardiac outpatient clinics at 6 different hospitals in southern Sweden during autumn 2009 to explore the verbal gendered constructions of patients. Through critical discourse analysis, we revealed that the male patients tended to describe their ailments with performance-oriented statements, whereas the female patients usually used emotional-oriented statements. The staff downplayed the male patients' questions and statements, while they acknowledged concern toward the female patients. Both the patients and the staff made conclusions according to a mutual construction. Male patients were constructed as competent, and female patients as fragile through gender-stereotypical communication. Open-ended statements and questions enabled consultations to be less limited by gender stereotypes.

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