Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Nurse Talk: Features of Effective Verbal Communication Used by Expert District Nurses

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posted on 2021-11-02, 22:24 authored by MacDonald, Lindsay Margaret

This thesis represents an appreciative enquiry to identify features of effective verbal communication between nurses and patients.

Using a method developed by the Language in the Workplace Project (Stubbe 1998) two nurse participants recorded a small sample of their conversations with patients as they occurred naturally in clinical practice. These six conversations constitute the main body of raw data for the study. The data was analysed using a combination of discourse and ethnographic analysis.

Experience in nursing, particularly insider knowledge of the context of district nursing, helped me to uncover the richness of meaning in the conversations. The subtle interconnections and nuances could easily have been missed by an outside observer.

The study has shown that in their interactions with patients, expert nurses follow a pattern in terms of the structure and content of the conversations and it is possible to identify specific features of effective nurse-patient communication within these conversations. The most significant of these are the repertoire of linguistic skills available to nurses, the importance of small talk and the attention paid by nurses to building a working relationship with patients, in part, through conversation.

The findings have implications for nursing education and professional development.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Master of Arts (Applied)

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Graduate School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health


Duke, Jan