Chapter published in:Argumentation between Doctors and Patients: Understanding clinical argumentative discourse
Frans H. van Eemeren, Bart Garssen and Nanon Labrie
[Not in series 235] 2021
► pp. 1–12
Argumentation between doctors and patients
Verbal interaction between doctors and patients is inherent to the medical profession. When the communicative interaction between doctors and patients is aimed at exchanging different viewpoints through discussion in order to reach a (treatment) decision, it can be said that the dialogue that emerges is argumentative in nature. It is important to note here that the term ‘argumentation’ bears no negative connotation. Rather it refers to a resolution-oriented process that is aimed at justifying or refuting a standpoint – an opinion, judgment, preference, or recommendation at issue in the discourse. Medical consultation can be referred to as an argumentative activity type. This means that the argumentative discourse between doctors and patients is influenced by the rules, standards, and conventions that apply to medical consultation. Argumentative processes between doctors and patients can be understood through careful study of their discourse. In doing so, a theoretical approach is required that makes clear how the argumentative discourse concerned is to be analyzed and evaluated. The pragma-dialectical theory of argumentation, which forms the theoretical framework of this volume, can be used to describe the use of argumentation in clinical settings as well as to evaluate the uses of argumentation in doctor-patient communication. This is particularly useful for anyone who seeks to both understand and improve the use of argumentation in practice.