It is widely acknowledged that doctors’ expressions of empathy are fundamental to a successful medical consultation. While extensive work has been done on empathic communication in face-to-face medical encounters, few studies explored expressions of empathy in online medical consultations. Such research is particularly scarce in Chinese contexts, even though China has recently seen substantial growth in e-healthcare activities. To gain a better understanding of clinical empathic communication in online environment, this study, using discourse-analytic tools, explores the pragmatic functions of doctors’ empathic responses in text-based online medical consultations in China. The study finds that most empathic responses by doctors can be said to perform the function of facilitating the institutional task of problem-solving, and a few serve the function of self-promotion that is likely to be triggered by the e-commerce model for online medical services.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Health(social science)