There are not systematic researches about the use of metaphors in medical consultations. This work aimed to describe the use of metaphors in Italian general medicine consultations through the analysis of: the frequencies of metaphors, metaphors’ trigger, metaphors’ distribution on timing, what metaphors say, how metaphors explain their contents, the functions of the metaphors (cognitive function vs emotive function). 100 videotaped general practice outpatient consultations were considered. All the sentences where metaphors used a figurative language in which one concept is described as being equivalent to another were selected and transcribed. Data analysis was conducted using a quantitative approach (frequencies) to analyze metaphors’ trigger and timing, and a qualitative analysis was conducted first to categorize metaphors and then to create a taxonomy based on the metaphors’ categories. 280 metaphors were found: 43.2% were pronounced by physicians and 56.8% by patients. In 41 consultations the trigger was the patient (55.4%). Metaphors were pronounced on the average every 3’30’’. The taxonomy emerged overlapped partially with the existent literature. Patients used metaphors more than physicians, gathering them in the first part of the consultation, and using them with emotional goals. Metaphor is a specific linguistic feature of the physician-patient relation.
Keywords: Metaphor, ambulatory care, general practice, physician-patient communication
Stefania Anania, Serena Barello, Elena Vegni, Egidio A. Moja, "The brave battle": the use of metaphors in medical consultation in "PSICOLOGIA DELLA SALUTE" 2/2013, pp. 159-172, DOI:10.3280/PDS2013-002010