Modes of Interaction in Naturally Occurring Medical Encounters With General Practitioners: The “One in a Million” Study

Olaug Lian, Sarah Nettleton, Age Wifstad, Christopher Dowrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article, we qualitatively explore the manner and style in which medical encounters between patients and general practitioners (GPs) are mutually conducted, as exhibited in situ in 10 consultations sourced from the One in a Million: Primary Care Consultations Archive in England. Our main objectives are to identify interactional modes, to develop a classification of these modes, and to uncover how modes emerge and shift both within and between consultations. Deploying an interactional perspective and a thematic and narrative analysis of consultation transcripts, we identified five distinctive interactional modes: question and answer (Q&A) mode, lecture mode, probabilistic mode, competition mode, and narrative mode. Most modes are GP-led. Mode shifts within consultations generally map on to the chronology of the medical encounter. Patient-led narrative modes are initiated by patients themselves, which demonstrates agency. Our classification of modes derives from complete naturally occurring consultations, covering a wide range of symptoms, and may have general applicability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1129-1143
Number of pages15
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number6
Early online date4 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021

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