Disclosing and responding to cancer "fears" during oncology interviews

Wayne A. Beach, David W. Easter, Jeffrey S. Good, Elisa Pigeron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Video-excerpts from routine oncology interviews are examined to reveal how patients demonstrate and doctors respond to "fears" about cancer. Vocally and visually, embodied impacts of dealing with dreaded consequences of cancer are apparent when addressing both good and potentially bad cancer news. Even a "brush" with cancer can promote negative and ongoing impacts provoking unresolved illness dilemmas. We reveal how, in the midst of extending answers and initiating concerns, patients exhibit trepidations when volunteering narrative information about their medical history and experience of symptoms. In response, doctors are shown to acknowledge yet exhibit minimal receptiveness to patients' lifeworld disclosures and demonstrations (e.g., redirecting attention away from patients' concerns by offering "textbook" symptoms and related pursuits of biomedical agendas). Discussion focuses on interactional criteria for identifying "fears", patients' lay orientations to medical visits, and implications for refining educational workshops for oncologists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)893-910
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • Conversation analysis
  • Oncology interviews
  • USA
  • Video

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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