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Research Project Details

Messages and Metamessages of Silence in Physician-Patient Communication
Farah Ahmad,  Blake Poland
Co-Applicant(s): Pamela Hudak, Wendy Levinson
HCTP/ICE Support:   $5,000 (November 2007-October 2008)
HCTP/ICE Themes:   Bodies, Work, Technologies
Wherever there is speech, there is silence. Yet, silence is often ignored in the assessment and interpretation of communicative behaviours. This knowledge gap is particularly evident in the medical literature on physician-patient communication. Nonetheless, several social and linguistic theories exist on silence. This socio-linguistic body of literature documents that silence is provoked in socially sensitive or tense situations, such as discussions about partner abuse.

The objective of the proposed research is twofold: 1) to review social and linguistic theories on silence; and 2) to examine and interpret the various forms and functions of silence in physician-patient interactions concerned with the risk of partner abuse, facilitated and non-facilitated via computer-based health risk assessments.

This research will improve our understanding of silence in physician-patient interactions at both the theoretical and empirical level. The gained knowledge will contribute in enhancing provider communication skills.




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