Doctors' and interpreters' conversational styles in paediatric diabetes encounters: A case study of empowering language use

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


During the last few decades, ideas of empowerment, person-centred care (PCC) and shared decision-making (SDM) have informed western health care. An increasing interest in conversational styles aligned with these ideas is visible e.g. in the work to make motivational interviewing (MI) an evidence-based communicative practice. But linguistic competence is needed to identify the subtle nuances of the communicative practices in a doctor-patient consultation. It is therefore particularly important to investigate conversation styles in mediated encounters with immigrant patients. Mitigation strategies (indirect speech, hedging etc.) and confirming strategies (back-channelling, encouragement etc.) are considered to be typical of an 'empowering' conversation style. The distribution of these features in encounters with or without interpreters was analysed in a case study of two consultations with the same doctor in a children's diabetes clinic in Sweden. The results of this study indicate that the mitigation strategies and confirming strategies characteristic of a conversation style aimed at strengthening and encouraging the patient tend to get lost in mediation. The implications of these findings are discussed.


External organisations
  • Vårdal Institute /Swedish Institute for Health Sciences
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Nursing
  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


  • Conversation style, Empowering strategies, Interpreter, L2 speakers, Paediatric diabetes, Person-centred care, Politeness
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-167
Number of pages13
JournalCommunication & Medicine. An Interdisciplinary Journal of Healthcare, Ethics and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: The Vårdal Institute (016540000), Swedish (015011001)

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