Does Argumentation Matter? A Systematic Literature Review on the Role of Argumentation in Doctor-Patient Communication

Nanon Labrie, Peter J. Schulz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


In view of a growing interest in argumentative discourse in the context of patient-centered consultation and shared decision making, this article explores the role that argumentation has been attributed in the literature on doctor-patient consultation so far. It studies to what extent theories and concepts of argumentation have been applied by scholars from various fields in order to analyze, understand, facilitate, and improve the argumentative nature of medical consultation. It reports on an extensive and systematic literature search-using eight online databases, expert suggestions, and a manual search-and the subsequent evaluation of 1,330 abstracts on the basis of strict inclusion and exclusion criteria. Forty relevant scientific contributions are grouped into four main categories and discussed accordingly: (a) argumentation theory, (b) discourse analysis, (c) medical informatics, and (d) medical ethics. Because of its systematic approach, this study forms a solid starting point for further integration of argumentation theoretical insights into contemporary views of patient-centered medicine and evidence-based medicine. It provides suggestions for further interdisciplinary and theory-driven research with a strong focus on empirical reality. Doing so, a preliminary model is proposed that outlines the potential effects of the quality of doctors' communication on proximal, intermediate, and long-term consultation outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)996-1008
Number of pages13
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 2014


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