Medical Communication in the Asia Context
  • ISSN 0957-6851
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9838
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This study analyses patient questions in prenatal genetic counselling (PGC) in a Hong Kong hospital. The focus is on the kinds of questions asked by the patients and the sequential environments in which the questions are asked. The ten patients in the study are pregnant women at or above 38 years of age, four local Cantonese-speaking Chinese, and six of Filipina or Thai origin. The PGC is conducted by a nurse who communicates with the Chinese patients in Cantonese and with the non-Chinese patients in English. Two broad types of questions, medical and administrative, in line with the purpose of PGC, are found in both groups. While both groups share a concern on the accuracy of the test, the Chinese group asks more questions on medical details beyond the issue of accuracy. With regard to sequential environments, questions may be either ‘occasioned’ by the nurse’s prior talk or ‘self-motivated’; both may occur in the positions for minimal responses in extended information delivery sequences. Self-motivated questions also occur as a second or later component in the patient’s extended turn. While the two groups of patients ask questions from either of the sequential positions, a qualitative difference lies in the turn design of the self-motivated questions.


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