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Appears in:
Pages: 9177-9184
Publication year: 2016
ISBN: 978-84-608-8860-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2016.0993

Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain

USING COMMUNICATION ACCOMMODATION THEORY TO ANALYSE LANGUAGE-DISCORDANT NURSE-PATIENT INTERACTIONS: IMPLICATIONS FOR APPLIED LINGUISTIC DESIGN

M. Pretorius

University of Antwerp (BELGIUM)
Language-discordance in healthcare communication can adversely affect patient treatment and care (Schyve, 2007). It can also affect peer and patient perceptions of the professional competence of nurses (Rogan, Miguel, Brown & Kilstoff, 2006). Where such problems associated specifically with language-discordant nursing communication are concerned, the design of extant language and communication programmes for nursing professionals in second language (L2) communication contexts have been criticised for their lack of a solid, theoretical foundations (McGilton, Irwin-Robinson, Boscart & Spanjevic, 2006; Boscart, 2009).

In order to begin to fill this gap, a thorough needs analysis is required to inform the design of language and communication training. As part of such a needs analysis, I use a Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT: Soliz & Giles, 2014) approach to analysing pragmatic competence in language-discordant, nurse-patient interactions. CAT seeks to explain how interlocutors accommodate others (or not) by adjusting their communicative behaviour to manage comprehension and social distance (Soliz & Giles, 2014). CAT proposes that reactions and adjustments to scommunicative behaviours are influenced by at least three factors: inferences of intentionality, attributions of motives and subsequent evaluations of the interaction and interactant. Thus, the evaluation of and subsequent reaction to specific communicative behaviour is determined by perceived intentionality of the communicative behaviour and the motive is attributed to the intentionality. The aim of my analysis is to identify predictors of such perceptions, attributions and evaluations that lead to patients’ reactions to nursing professionals’ limited pragmatic competence (greetings and honorifics).

The data were gathered by means of observations at two multilingual South African hospitals where nurse-patient interactions were audio recorded. Based on the qualitative content analysis of my data, subjective perceptions and attributions are influenced firstly by knowledge of culturally appropriate use of greetings and honorifics. Secondly it is influenced by the existence of a previously established nurse-patient relationship. Thus, the extent to which these factors were present seemed to determine whether patients perceived incorrect or unfamiliar use of greetings and honorifics as (un)intentional, as well as attributing the (un)intentionality to a positive or negative motive. This in turn influences the evaluation of the speaker and interaction, which determines the reaction.

Using a CAT approach provides unique insight that can be used to inform the design of theoretically sound language and communication training or tools for nursing (pre-)professionals. Such training should be aimed at not only developing the linguistic resources required to perform greetings and use honorifics, but should also focus on cultural sensitivity in using interactional communicative functions appropriately. In addition, perspective-taking skills should be develop for interactions where the patient may be the one using an L2. This should help nursing professionals to manage language-discordant interactions where their or the patients’ pragmatic competence is limited in order to avoid negative evaluations and reactions by either or both interactants.
@InProceedings{PRETORIUS2016USI,
author = {Pretorius, M.},
title = {USING COMMUNICATION ACCOMMODATION THEORY TO ANALYSE LANGUAGE-DISCORDANT NURSE-PATIENT INTERACTIONS: IMPLICATIONS FOR APPLIED LINGUISTIC DESIGN},
series = {8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN16 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-608-8860-4},
issn = {2340-1117},
doi = {10.21125/edulearn.2016.0993},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2016.0993},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {4-6 July, 2016},
year = {2016},
pages = {9177-9184}}
TY - CONF
AU - M. Pretorius
TI - USING COMMUNICATION ACCOMMODATION THEORY TO ANALYSE LANGUAGE-DISCORDANT NURSE-PATIENT INTERACTIONS: IMPLICATIONS FOR APPLIED LINGUISTIC DESIGN
SN - 978-84-608-8860-4/2340-1117
DO - 10.21125/edulearn.2016.0993
PY - 2016
Y1 - 4-6 July, 2016
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN16 Proceedings
SP - 9177
EP - 9184
ER -
M. Pretorius (2016) USING COMMUNICATION ACCOMMODATION THEORY TO ANALYSE LANGUAGE-DISCORDANT NURSE-PATIENT INTERACTIONS: IMPLICATIONS FOR APPLIED LINGUISTIC DESIGN, EDULEARN16 Proceedings, pp. 9177-9184.
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