The role of assessment packages for diagnostic consultations: A conversation analytic perspective

Camilla B. Rossen, Niels Buus, Egon Stenager, Elsebeth Stenager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This article reports a conversation analysis of assessment package consultations. Healthcare delivery packages belong to a highly structured mode of healthcare delivery, in which specific courses of healthcare interventions related to assessment and treatment are predefined, both as to timing and content. Assessment packages are widely used in an increasing number of medical specialities; however, there is a lack of knowledge about how packaged assessment influences the interaction between doctor and patient. In this study, we investigate the final consultation in assessment packages, which is when the final clarification of the patient’s symptoms takes place. The primary data of the study were eight audio recordings of consultations, and the secondary data were ethnographic field descriptions. In most consultations, packaged assessment was a resource as it provided fast and efficient clarification. In most cases, clarification was treated as good news since it either confirmed the absence of a serious disease or resulted in a diagnosis leading to relevant treatment offers. However, in some cases, clarification was not perceived as good news. This was the case in consultations with patients whose goal was to leave the consultation with clarification in the form of a definite diagnosis, but who were not offered such clarification. These patients negotiated the outcome of the consultation by applying implicit and explicit pressure, which induced the doctors to disregard the boundaries of the package and offer the patient more tests. The study highlights some of the problems related to introducing narrow, specialized package assessment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-317
Number of pages24
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Assessment package
  • consultations
  • conversation analysis
  • diagnostics
  • doctor–patient relation

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