We exist to improve the lives
of everyone affected by epilepsy

PhD Studentship

Supervisors - Dr Paul Drew, University of York and Dr Markus Reuber, University of Sheffield
Student -  Ms Catherine Crow

Conversation analysis of epilepsy encounters: communication between seizure patients and their doctors (and third parties)

This doctoral research is designed to improve our understanding of the communication between people with epilepsy (PWE) and their doctors. Specifically, the research will focus on patients’ descriptions of their seizure episodes. Previous research has shown that, in the absence of definitive bio-medical or neurological diagnostic evidence, these descriptions play a key role in diagnosis. Moreover, patients’ accounts provide an insight into how patients are coping with their condition. Learning more about this will allow doctors to make diagnoses that are more accurate and provide the most suitable treatment for their patients.

Using the methodology of Conversation Analysis, which is proving immensely valuable in the study of medical interactions, we aim first to replicate and test previous findings. Using existing transcripts and new recordings of interviews with seizure patients, we will focus on patients’ references to third parties, as characters in their accounts (for instance as witnesses); and to the role played by third parties – e.g. family members – when they are present in the medical consultations, and can contribute to the emerging picture. Learning more about the communicative functions of third party references and the interactional involvement of accompanying persons will allow doctors to understand their patients better and to provide more targeted support.

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