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TitlePatient-centred communication and patient education: a multimodal social semiotic approach
AuthorWeiss, Rachel
SubjectHealth Sciences Education
AbstractPatient-centred communication and patient education: a multimodal social semiotic approach This study explores the phenomenon of patient-centred communication within the South African health context. Patient-centred communication involves several distinct but interlinked elements, namely, taking a holistic approach to illness, "seeing" through the patient"s eyes, "co-constructing" a shared understanding or therapeutic alliance, and sharing decision-making and responsibility where possible. While adopted by medical curricula across the world, a lack of conceptual clarity is common among students, educators, researchers and policy-makers. Furthermore, little research has been done that accounts for contextual factors and non-western settings. This study looks at how fourth year medical students operationalise the "classroom-taught" principles of patient-centred communication during a health education encounter with patients. Drawing on a qualitative, interpretivist paradigm, the research focuses on communication in the context of language barriers, cultural value differences and socio-economic inequality. This study views students" multimodal health education artefacts as instances of "informed flexibility" to patients" needs and challenges. The research is located within a Pharmacology curriculum activity where medical students produce personalized health promotion artefacts for rheumatic heart disease patients. Their artefacts are instances of patient-centred communication as well as instances of purposeful pedagogic recontextualisation, in that they realise both epistemic and relational dimensions of health education. Students also write a critique on the process, reflecting on the patient interview and motivating their design choices. Taking a multimodal social semiotic approach, the study draws on Bezemer and Kress" semiotic principles of recontextualisation (2008) for analysis of artefacts. Thematic analysis of students" critical reflections as well as follow-up interviews with their patients illuminate the context and assumptions underpinning students" design choices. The study is significant in several ways. It highlights the complex, multifaceted, multi-layered nature of doctor-patient communication, argues for realism in what can be taught and assessed in a classroom and suggests novel pedagogic approaches. The study also brings an African perspective to patient-centred communication, and in highlighting challenges relevant to the South African health care system, it supports contemporary calls for "decolonisation" of health sciences curricula. The research contributes to ongoing efforts to eradicate rheumatic heart disease by giving patients a "voice", raising awareness and supporting preventative programs. Methodologically, the study contributes to Bezemer and Kress" (2008) pursuit of articulating a semiotic methodological framework for multimodal texts.
PublisherUniversity of Cape Town
PublisherFaculty of Health Sciences
PublisherDepartment of Health Sciences Education