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Communication in context: new directions in communication research.

Bensing, J., Dulmen, S. van, Tates, K. Communication in context: new directions in communication research. Patient Education and Counseling: 2003, 50(1), 27-32
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By focusing attention almost exclusively on a single encounter, researchers have adopted a rather restricted view on studying communication in health care. After all, communication does not take place in a vacuum but is influenced by the context in which it takes place. We would therefore strongly recommend to broaden the perspective of communication research. In this respect, four lines of investigation are proposed, each guided by different theories. In the first, context is determined by the goals or targets aimed at by both parties in the medical encounter. The second concerns the context of time, referring to the influence of previous and future medical encounters. The third is set up around the organizational context in which an interaction takes place and the last defines context by looking at a medical encounter as a meeting between two multifaceted parties. Studying a medical encounter in its broader context is expected to provide answers to intriguing questions such as why health care professionals do not always act in conformity with the general approved standards of high quality communication and how the factor time span can be used more effectively in the medical encounter. Eventually, a broader context view will bridge the existing gap between theory and practice. (aut. ref.)