Communication and Medicine
Both general practice and homeopathic consultations are organized around the key task of treating patients’ health-related problems. Despite their different theories of healing, interactions between professionals and patients in both share many features, though there are also clear differences in the ways in which patients and professionals go about the process of problem solving. This paper compares the ways in which a specific activity, the delivery and reception of the reason for the visit, is managed in these two institutional environments. Through the comparison, it discusses ways in which participants are informed by the different theories of healing and ‘ideal’ models of interaction in their activities at the consultation, and points at some discrepancies between theories on treatment and theories on interaction. Furthermore, the paper shows how other contextual features, such as the institutionalized structure of a service encounter, may be consequential for the interaction analyzed. Finally, the paper discusses the potential benefits of this analysis to the practices studied.
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