Persuasion in Hong Kong medical encounters

Kimmy Cheng*, John H Powers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Doctors frequently encounter patients who fail to follow advice. Living in a knowledge-based society, patients are now more critical about the information they receive from their doctors, because they have more access to resources with health information. Patient compliance is important, however, to guarantee better health outcomes. This study uses clinical examples to describe the many ways in which doctors influence their patients' behaviors or decisions. Simultaneously, this study looks at how patients execute persuasion and how they assert themselves in response to doctors' persuasive strategies. Results showed that doctors often present medical information selectively and use authority to persuade patients. They also employ the marker of inevitability to create an obligation and adopt the marker of conditional inevitability to stress the desirability of their advice. Patients, in contrast, often present information selectively and change topics during the course of persuasion. Given these tendencies, this study argues that no strategy can guarantee the success of a persuasive discourse and that successful persuasion does not always occur with just one effort. This study argues that even if persuasion is unsuccessful initially, it is important for the participants to keep the discussion open and effective, which might enhances future compliance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-162
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Communication in Healthcare
Issue number3
Early online date18 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013

User-Defined Keywords

  • Persuasion
  • Doctor–patient communication
  • Hong Kong medical encounters
  • Discourse analysis
  • Doctor–patient relationship
  • Qualitative research


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