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© Catherine J. Woods

On 7th June, the NIHR School for Primary Care Research Conversation Analysis Working Group hosted an all day workshop at Green Templeton College, University of Oxford on ‘Applying conversation analytic methods in primary health care research’. The workshop was aimed at researchers who draw on the knowledge-based theories, principles and methods of Conversation Analysis (CA). In particular, those that do so to understand and help address or solve practical problems with roots or a basis in communication between patients and healthcare professionals.

The aims of the workshop were threefold:

1. To build a network of individuals, working both within and beyond the School for Primary Care Research, with expertise in CA research across different health care settings;

2. To take stock of the practical problems/issues addressed by completed and ongoing CA research in primary health care and reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of our approach;

3. To identify the gaps and prioritise problems/issues for future applied CA research in health care.

Our participants included past and current NIHR award holders leading CA research in health care from thirteen different Universities, including five SPCR member departments and visiting researchers from Finland, Sweden and North America.

Taking stock revealed the extent of CA studies in primary care – over 200 published articles spanning four decades, sixteen countries and at least thirteen languages! Most of our research has centred on acute primary care consultations between doctors and patients in North America and England. However more recent studies have focused on nurse-patient interaction and interaction in other community settings including urgent care, dentistry, pharmacy, maternal and child health care.

Looking forward we agreed that there is a need for greater diversity in our community and in the participants we recruit. We also discussed the value of cross-sector and cross-cultural comparative studies; how we might address a bias towards addressing problems defined by health care professionals rather than patients; the importance of supporting researchers collecting and analysing data in less well developed health care systems; the need for further methodological development; and possible routes to future funding.

In short, offering space for our CA colleagues to come together in person, in the beautiful sunny grounds of Green Templeton College, proved to be a welcome opportunity to network, take stock and pull focus after such an extended period of remote working during the pandemic.

Further information

This workshop was hosted by: Rebecca Barnes, Charlotte Albury, Fiona Stevenson and Geraldine Leydon (Workshop co-hosts and CA Working Group leads - University of Oxford, UCL and the University of Southampton)

Thank you to Catherine J. Woods for her permission to use her photograph of Green Templeton College, taken when she attended this workshop.