'Is it alright if I-um-we unbutton your pyjama top now?' Pronominal use in bedside teaching encounters

Charlotte E. Rees, Lynn V. Monrouxe

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Individuals' pronominal talk can signify how they conceptualize themselves, others and their relationships. Although studies have analysed healthcare professionals' use of pronouns within the doctor-patient relationship, none have explored this within the 'learning triad' of the bedside teaching encounter (BTE). We aim to address this gap in the literature by considering the functions of pronouns in the talk of physician tutors, students and patients during BTEs. We analysed the use and function of pronouns (I, we, you and they), pronoun shifts and the collocate 'think' in the talk of five tutors, ten students and six patients within six BTEs. Our analysis suggested that participants' pronominal talk served multiple functions. We discuss the varied functions of BTE participants' pronominal talk and consider what their pronouns reveal about their understanding of each other and their relationships. Further research is needed with a more diverse sample, including younger patients, and across different settings like general practice, to explore the full diversity of pronominal talk within BTEs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-182
Number of pages12
JournalCommunication and Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Bedside teaching encounter
  • Observation
  • Pronominal talk
  • Pronouns
  • Student-doctor-patient relationship
  • UK

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