How and why children instigate talk in pediatric allergy consultations: A conversation analytic account
journal contributionposted on 20.08.2020, 12:27 by Laura Jenkins, Hepburn Alexa, MacDougall Colin
Involving children in their healthcare encounter is a national and international priority. While existing research has examined the ways in which children are recruited to participate in the consultation, no work has examined whether and how children instigate talk, and the extent to which their contributions are successful. This paper presents a conversation analysis of a selection of 10 out of 30 video recordings in which children aged 4-10 years instigate talk during consultations they attend with their parents/carers at a UK pediatric clinic. The analysis reveals for the first time that children do successfully instigate talk without being asked or selected in 22 episodes during their consultation with the doctor. Children most frequently address their parent/carer (16/22). They capitalize on specific contexts within the consultation to instigate talk, for example: history-taking questions about what they ate or how they reacted (10/22); or discussions surrounding the child’s feelings or sensations following the skin-prick testing (7/22) - aspects of experience to which they have access. Children’s non-solicited talk necessarily occurs when they are not currently active participators and children engage in extra interactional work including various verbal strategies (summons and prosodic variations) and non-verbal resources (tapping and gaze) to break into the interaction. The benefits of their contributions include the opportunity to affirm the child’s role as a legitimate contributor, and the potential for additional medically-relevant information to arise which could enrich the clinical process. Our analysis shows that the previously overlooked phenomenon of children instigating talk, although not common, can play a crucial role in the consultation. We suggest that strategies to increase such involvement have the potential to augment the healthcare process. Our findings offer a critical baseline for the introduction of new consultations models, such as digital appointments, which may exclude some children completely.
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- Communication and Media