Studying Doctor-Patients Interaction through Narrative Inquiry: Advantages and Concerns
There is clearly greater recognition of the advantages of the study of narratives in the field of health care. Nevertheless, most of the narrative interviews are focused on the study of illness experiences, while there are relatively scarce attempts to understand doctor-patient interaction through narrative study. This paper examines stories which people tell about interactions they had with their doctors. The study draws on data from qualitative in-depth interviews with 22 middle-aged middle-class Jewish Israeli men and women, generally healthy, who were asked to describe interactions they recently had with doctors. The stories they told us were classified according to their performative characteristics and self and other positioning. The data point to a large gap between the narrators' expectations of the interaction with their doctors and the actual experiences. The paper discusses the advantages of narrative inquiry for the study of patient-doctor interaction, and in particular the fact that it allows for expressions of deep notions of vulnerability which usually stay un-voiced. The study also raises questions and concerns regarding the 'tellability' of stories about 'good care' vs. the tellability of stories about 'bad care'.