Uncertain family trajectories: Interactional consequences of cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis

Wayne A. Beach, Jeffrey S. Good

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Analysis of a corpus of family phone calls reveals how family members routinely address uncertain issues when attempting to understand cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. A large collection of moments are overviewed and organized into three prominent social activities: biomedical reportings about anonymous medical staff; references to doctors in anticipation of explanations; and assessing the care provided by doctors and medical staff. Specific attention is drawn to how reportings include lay depictions about lack of knowledge, ambiguities associated with the passage of time, and emergent troubles with pain and medication. These instances make clear how family cancer journeys are interactionally organized events, comprised of distinct communication practices for raising and resolving illness dilemmas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-32
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2004


  • Conversation analysis
  • Family cancer
  • Illness and uncertainty
  • Lay understandings of technical procedures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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