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How Psychiatrists Recommend Treatment and Its Relationship with Patient Uptake

Thompson, L. & McCabe, R. ORCID: 0000-0003-2041-7383 (2018). How Psychiatrists Recommend Treatment and Its Relationship with Patient Uptake. Health Communication, 33(11), pp. 1345-1354. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2017.1350916


Consultations for patients with chronic mental health conditions are conceived as meetings of experts: medical and experiential, respectively. Treatment decisions, in these terms, become a joint responsibility rather than handed down ex-cathedra. One resource for constituting decisions as ‘shared’ is the treatment recommendation – decisional authority can be invoked through its design. There is concern that people diagnosed with schizophrenia are infrequently involved in treatment decisions. However, the methods psychiatrists actually employ remain undefined. This article advances our understanding of psychiatric practice by mapping alternative methods used by psychiatrists to recommend treatment in outpatient consultations in situ. First, we unpack the types of treatments psychiatrists recommend. Then, we ask how psychiatrists recommend treatment? Applying a novel coding taxonomy, informed by the conversation analytic principle that recommendations represent different social actions, we identify the distribution of alternative formulations for psychiatrists’ recommendations (pronouncements, suggestions, proposals, and offers). We also propose one linguistic dimension, personal pronouns, on which recommending actions often depend, implicative for who is projected as ‘accountable’ for the decision. Finally, we examine the relationship between action type and patient uptake: is a particular type of recommendation more likely to attract acceptance/resistance from patients? And how does this relate to decisional accountability?

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Health Communication on 16 Aug 2017, available online:
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of 3. Thompson 01.05.17_TS.pdf]
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