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Abstract

This chapter focuses on how doctors, during consultations, use computers as objects that serve diagnostic purposes. Specifically, the chapter investigates instances when doctors shift their attention towards their computers while patients present their problems. Such shifts momentarily change the focus of the doctor-patient interaction from patient-centred, in which patients typically describe their problems and/or answer questions from their own perspective, to computer-centred, where doctors seek answers about patients’ histories and general conditions as available in the digital records. I call this activity ‘historytaking side sequences’ because participants treat them as relevant departures from on-going interactional trajectories, which make a range of options such as diagnoses and informed decisions possible. The study sheds light on how computer use has become an integral part of face-to-face doctor-patient communication. More specifically, the study also shows that integrating the computer into the consultation requires doctors’ active efforts, both verbal and embodied, to indicate that the computer is a relevant object and its use is important for the medical business at hand.

References

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