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Coding linguistic elements in clinical interactions: a step-by-step guide for analyzing communication form.

Stortenbeker, I., Salm, L., Olde Hartman, T.C., Stommel, W., Das, E., Dulmen, S. van. Coding linguistic elements in clinical interactions: a step-by-step guide for analyzing communication form. BMC Medical Research Methodology
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Background
The quality of communication between healthcare professionals (HCPs) and patients affects health outcomes. Different coding systems have been developed to unravel the interaction. Most schemes consist of predefined categories that quantify the content of communication (the what). Though the form (the how) of the interaction is equally important, protocols that systematically code variations in form are lacking. Patterns of form and how they may differ between groups therefore remain unnoticed. To fill this gap, we present CLECI, Coding Linguistic Elements in Clinical Interactions, a protocol for the development of a quantitative codebook analyzing communication form in medical interactions.

Methods
Analyzing with a CLECI codebook is a four-step process, i.e. preparation, codebook development, (double-)coding, and analysis and report. Core activities within these phases are research question formulation, data collection, selection of utterances, iterative deductive and inductive category refinement, reliability testing, coding, analysis, and reporting.

Results and conclusion
We present step-by-step instructions for a CLECI analysis and illustrate this process in a case study. We highlight theoretical and practical issues as well as the iterative codebook development which combines theory-based and data-driven coding. Theory-based codes assess how relevant linguistic elements occur in natural interactions, whereas codes derived from the data accommodate linguistic elements to real-life interactions and contribute to theory-building. This combined approach increases research validity, enhances theory, and adjusts to fit naturally occurring data. CLECI will facilitate the study of communication form in clinical interactions and other institutional settings.