Careful expressions of social aspects: How local professionals in high school settings, municipal services, and general practice communicate care to youth presenting persistent bodily complaints

Maria F Kvamme, Catharina E A Wang, Trond Waage, Mette B Risør
Health & Social Care in the Community 2019 April 10
Persistent health complaints pose communicative dilemmas in care encounters, adversely affecting patient experiences and pathways. Little is known about the impact and role of professionals in encounters with young people with incipient, debilitating, and persistent symptoms. This study aims to explore communicative dilemmas and the role of language in care provided by local professionals in high school settings, municipal services, and general practice to young people presenting persistent bodily complaints. The study is based on in-depth individual interviews conducted from April to July 2016 with 12 professionals identified and selected during anthropological multi-sited fieldwork in a Norwegian community. We identify two modalities of what we have chosen to call 'careful expression', used as strategies across professions to overcome communicative dilemmas. Professionals reflexively and pragmatically negotiated with the powers of language to influence illness experience and to enact empowered young subjects. These insights may prove relevant for future studies of care encounters while also indicating a critical attitude to institutional logics that affect care responses.


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