Interpersonal Meaning in Doctors’ Interrogatives From the Respective of Systemic Functional Grammar



Objectives: To carry out a systemic functional research on the interpersonal meaning realized in Chinese doctor-patient conversations from the perspective of doctors’ choice of interrogative.

Methods: Data were randomly collected from conversations between doctors and outpatients in one hospital in China, while being analyzed in terms of the interpersonal meaning from the SFL perspective. Statistical analysis was conducted by using SPSS 17.0.

Results: (1) Interrogatives are also favored in doctor-patient conversations in China as compared with findings from other studies (Brody, 1992; Smith, et al., 1998; Meeuwesen, et al, 2007), but Chinese doctors dominate in the whole process of diagnosis and treatment, exerting great influence on the patient. (2) Yes-no interrogatives are favored more by doctors practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine than by those in other clinic departments. (3) Both yes-no interrogatives and alterative interrogatives can be quickly responded to, but doctors in China usually ignore this, unaware of the importance of building harmonious interpersonal relationships. Practice implications: This research may enhance the efficiency of treatment and decrease medical disputes caused by bad communications.


Interrogative clause; Doctor-patient conversation; Interpersonal meaning

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