top of page

Acerca de

The 3rd International E-Symposium on Communication in Health Care

"Advancing Frontiers of Health Communication Research, Education and Practice during the Pandemic"

Session 7:  Healthcare Communication in the Chinese Context


Talk 1:  An exploratory study of meaning negotiation in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) consultation—a case study of Hong Kong

Jack Pun, Winnie Chor, Linda Zhong & Olga Zayts-Spence

This study is the first to explore TCM communications in the Hong Kong context. Based on 20 hours of conversations (in Cantonese) between TCM doctors and their patients in the diagnostic interviews, the study explores how the doctor-patient relationship is negotiated in the course of the consultation, while both the doctor and the patient are constantly trying to manage and maintain common ground. Particular attention has been paid to the identification of specific linguistic and discourse strategies that TCM doctors have employed to establish doctor-patient rapport, so that a better understanding of patient-centered care in the TCM context is obtained.

Speaker's bio:

Jack Pun is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at City University of Hong Kong. He explores the role of communication in shaping decision making processes at consultations, and how communication affects the quality of care patients received from the health providers in different clinical settings (emergency department, Intensive care unit, nursing handovers, traditional Chinese medicine, veterinary medicine) and how effective communication enhances our understanding of the challenges and expectations in healthcare in worldwide hospital setting.

Talk 2: Researching online medical consultations in Mainland China

Zhengpeng Luo

This talk reports on an ongoing research project on online medical consultations (OMC) in Mainland China. Mediated by recent information and communication technologies, OMC platforms (e.g., mobile applications, e-healthcare websites) allow patients/clients to consult a doctor for medical advice at any time. In recent years, OMC have been promoted as a way to help alleviate the pressure placed on the limited and largely imbalanced healthcare resources in Mainland China. The role of OMC in the country has been further enhanced by the National Health Commission’s statement on implementing OMC as a means of reducing social gathering and the risk of infection during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research project introduced here aims at investigating the interactional structure of OMC and the main issues involved in this emerging genre of medical consultation. Taking a discourse analytic perspective, this project further examines the role of language in mediating and facilitating a range of institutional, interpersonal, and economic goals in the context of OMC.

Speaker's Bio:

Dr. Zhengpeng Luo is an Assistant Professor at the School of Foreign Languages, Peking University. Prior to joining PKU, Zhengpeng studied at the School of English, The University of Hong Kong. His research interests and areas of expertise include sociolinguistic and discourse-analytic approaches to language and health communication. Zhengpeng’s current research focuses on language use in online medical consultations and discourses of medical popularization in Chinese social media.

Talk 3:  What do Chinese patients think it means to be ‘old’?

Ni-Eng Lim

Based on a collection of video-recorded Mandarin Chinese medical interactions between elderly Chinese patients and their doctors culled from 150 hospital Urology consultations in Singapore, it is observed that these elderly patients will sometimes make overt reference to their ‘old-ness’ (such as ‘I’m old’ or ‘I’m already more than seventy’) during consultation. By examining the interactional sequences where such references are made, and how they utilize their ‘old-ness’ to reject the doctor’s recommendation or justify certain medical problems, this exploratory study aims to examine the perspectives of elderly Chinese patients. When patients instantiate themselves as members of the category known generically as “old people” within specific sequential slots, such Membership Categorization Devices, or MCDs (Sacks 1972), also reveals how Chinese elderly patients orient to being ‘old’ as a state with relevant (Chinese) societal norms and rights, thereby revealing their particular cultural orientation towards old age and healthcare.



Hester, S. & Eglin P. (1997). Culture in action: Studies in membership categorization analysis. University Press of America.

Sacks, H. (1972). On the Analyzability of Stories by Children. In J.J. Gumperz & Hymes D. (ed.) Directions in Sociolinguistics: The Ethnography of Communication: 325-345. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Speaker's bio:

Lim Ni Eng received his Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from the UCLA, and is Assistant Professor in the School of Humanities at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. Trained in interactional linguistics and conversation analysis, he is actively involved with the Medical Humanities Research cluster within the school, in particular with medical communication.

bottom of page