Socially constructed and structurally conditioned conflicts in territories of medical uncertainty
In territories of medical uncertainty, clinical encounters are highly contentious. To uncover maintaining mechanisms behind persistent conflicts, we explore the interactional dynamics of clinical encounters fused with medical uncertainty. Based on a thematic qualitative analysis of experiential texts from 385 people living with medically unexplained physical symptoms in Norway, UK, Ireland, USA and Canada, we explore patients main expectations, how these expectations are met, and how their expectations and experiences are socially constructed and structurally conditioned. Five fundamental expectations are identified: Health professionals ought to (1) acknowledge the lack of medical knowledge, and be frank, open and curious about it; (2) believe patient experiences and accept their condition as "real"; (3) avoid blaming patients for their ailment; (4) demonstrate compassion, understanding and respect, and (5) share decision-making power with patients. Our participants experience unfulfilled expectations in all five areas. Both experiences and unfulfilled expectations are influenced by structural factors transpiring from the modern Western biomedical paradigm, and from cultural norms and values of its surrounding society. Structural and cultural forces obstruct team-oriented collaboration based on congruent understandings, mutual trust and reciprocated respect. Without contextualisation, the interactional dynamics between patients and health professionals in clinical consultations cannot be exposed.
Source at: http://doi.org/10.1057/s41285-018-00082-w