Using Discursis to enhance the qualitative analysis of hospital pharmacist-patient interactions

Bernadette A.M. Chevalier, Bernadette Maria Watson, Michael A. Barras, William N. Cottrell, Daniel J. Angus

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction Pharmacist-patient communication during medication counselling has been successfully investigated using Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT). Communication researchers in other healthcare professions have utilised Discursis software as an adjunct to their manual qualitative analysis processes. Discursis provides a visual, chronological representation of communication exchanges and identifies patterns of interactant engagement. Aim The aim of this study was to describe how Discursis software was used to enhance previously conducted qualitative analysis of pharmacist-patient interactions (by visualising pharmacist-patient speech patterns, episodes of engagement, and identifying CAT strategies employed by pharmacists within these episodes). Methods Visual plots from 48 transcribed audio recordings of pharmacist-patient exchanges were generated by Discursis. Representative plots were selected to show moderate-high and low- level speaker engagement. Details of engagement were investigated for pharmacist application of CAT strategies (approximation, interpretability, discourse management, emotional expression, and interpersonal control). Results Discursis plots allowed for identification of distinct patterns occurring within pharmacist-patient exchanges. Moderate-high pharmacist-patient engagement was characterised by multiple off-diagonal squares while alternating single coloured squares depicted low engagement. Engagement episodes were associated with multiple CAT strategies such as discourse management (open-ended questions). Patterns reflecting pharmacist or patient speaker dominance were dependant on clinical setting. Discussion and conclusions Discursis analysis of pharmacist-patient interactions, a novel application of the technology in health communication, was found to be an effective visualisation tool to pin-point episodes for CAT analysis. Discursis has numerous practical and theoretical applications for future health communication research and training. Researchers can use the software to support qualitative analysis where large data sets can be quickly reviewed to identify key areas for concentrated analysis. Because Discursis plots are easily generated from audio recorded transcripts, they are conducive as teaching tools for both students and practitioners to assess and develop their communication skills.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0197288
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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