How Doctors Do Things with Empathy in Online Medical Consultations in China: A Discourse-analytic Approach

Yu Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)816-825
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Communication
Volume36
Issue number7
Early online date10 Jan 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication

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