Exploring the role of social factors on help-seeking, symptom interpretation and diagnosis, in patients with lung cancer or at heightened risk of developing lung cancer
Chatwin J, Kennedy A, Firth A, Povey A, Rogers A & Sanders C.
People with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) are at heightened risk of developing lung cancer. Recent research has suggested that in people who have the disease, the time between symptom onset and consultation can be long enough to significantly affect prognosis. The regular and routine clinical encounters that people with COPD engage in provide an opportunity for them to highlight new symptoms of concern, and for clinicians to be watchful for new symptomatic indicators. We present a micro-analysis of naturalistic data from a corpus of such encounters with the aim of exploring the interactional factors within these routine consultations which influence when and how new symptoms of concern are raised. Our hypothesis is that although the underlying aim of the review consultation is the same in both settings, the different consultation structures oriented to by nurses and GPs have a tangible effect on how new and concerning symptomatic information is introduced. Conversation analysis (CA) was used to examine 39 naturalistic review consultation recordings in two clinical settings; GP led (n=16), and practice nurse led (n=23). We describe three interactional formats by which patients chose to present new symptomatic concerns; ‘direct’, ‘embedded’, and ‘oblique’. Both settings provided interactional ‘slots’ for patients to offer new and concerning symptomatic information. However, the structure of nurse led encounters tended to limit opportunities for patients to develop extended symptom narratives which in turn facilitated ‘oblique’ formats. We suggest that the attenuation of the ‘oblique’ format in this particular clinical setting has implications relating to the psycho-social idiosyncrasies of lung cancer and the maintenance of interactional conditions that encourage patients to disclose new symptomatic concerns.