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Conversation Analysis

6. Interactions and Outcomes

Because the application of conversation analysis to medicine is a relatively recent phenomenon, the results of quantitative analysis are very recent and comparatively sparse. Nonetheless they strongly indicate the value of the method.

From Qualitative to Quantitative Research: Interactions and Outcomes

The analyses presented in previous sections are relatively detailed and nuanced. But do the issues described here demonstrably matter with respect to medical outcomes? Common sense would suggest that they do, but this cannot easily be demonstrated in a case by case analysis. For example, if we wish to demonstrate the relevance of interaction for medical decision making, data on interactional practices needs to be merged with clinical information, data about health beliefs and attitudes, and clinical decisions. All this implies the creation of coded, quantitative data from individual cases, involving the sacrifice of nuance and detail for 'big picture' features of the interaction which translate across individual cases. In this process, it is advisable to do careful qualitative conversation analytic preparation (and to keep the individual cases to hand), so as to retain an awareness of what was 'lost' in the transition to coded data.