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© 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. This article presents a contemporary view on the state of the art of applied conversation analytic studies of medical consultations. I begin by considering why conversation analysts might have been drawn to studying the medical consultation in the first place and how our foundational studies have paved the way to where we are now. I argue that we have provided evidence for a wide range of practical problems and dilemmas faced by patients and doctors (and their solutions) during these encounters; contributed new evidence to sociological debates/critiques of medical dominance; taken up consumer reformist agendas; and begun to demonstrate the practical enactment (or not) of health policies and new health-care technologies “in the wild.” The review highlights a trajectory toward intervention studies in response to increased “outside” interest from the medical community. I argue that although our current observation base may already have the potential to improve patient care, making a difference will require going beyond description to provide different levels of evidence for different stakeholder audiences. Data are in American and British English.

Original publication




Journal article


Research on Language and Social Interaction

Publication Date





300 - 315