Persuasive communication

Centre for Language Studies | Faculty of Arts | Radboud University Nijmegen

Wyke Stommel en health communication: twee nieuwe publicaties

Wyke_100Twee recente publicaties van Wyke Stommel zijn beide op het gebied van gezondheidscommunicatie:
Health communication in support groups en Complaining and the management of ‘face’ in online counseling.

Health communication in support groups

  • Stommel, Wyke & Joyce Lamerichs (2014). Communication in Online Support Groups: advice and beyond. In: Hamilton, Heidi & Chou, Wen-Ying Sylvia (eds.) Handbook of Language and Health Communication, Routledge: New York.

In this chapter, we describe existing studies on interactional practices of advice seeking and giving in online support groups on various kinds of diseases. Additionally, we offer an analysis of advice giving in an online support group on eating disorders and develop the argument that an advice question in an opening post is a way of entering the group, rather than purely a request for advice.

If advice is produced in the next post, the interaction ends after a “thank you” post. Conversely, if the next post does not provide advice but a report of personal experiences tied to the initiator’s problem account this is treated as a very relevant and welcome response and the thread is extended with additional posts on personal experiences.

We suggest that exchanging personal experiences in online support groups enables the participants to engage in longer “conversations”, while the activity of advice giving typically ends soon after the advice.

Health communication, face-threatening acts and face-saving strategies

  • Stommel, Wyke & Fleur van der Houwen (2014). Complaining and the management of ‘face’ in online counseling. Qualitative Health Research, 24 (2), 183-193.

In this article, we analyze how clients in online counseling by email do complaining. Complaining is a “face-threatening act” and can jeopardize the relationship between interlocutors. In online health interventions, we see high dropout rates. We suggest that because the interaction between client and counselor is at the basis of counseling, it is important to understand how a communicative act (e.g., a complaint) that signals potential dropout is constructed sequentially.

Based on a corpus of 20 email exchanges, we illustrate how clients constructed complaints over several sentences and sometimes various emails, and how they designed the complaints to minimize threat to the counselor’s face.

Counselors, in their responses, used various strategies to manage face threats. We show how complaints were mitigated to protect the counseling relationship and suggest that this is useful knowledge for health professionals.

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