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Taking part: Engaging knowledge on health in clinical encounters


  • Nunes, João Arriscado
  • Ferreira, Patrícia
  • Queirós, Filipa


Clinical encounters are the most widely shared form of engagement of citizens with health care and medical knowledge and a major setting for the constitution of the health-aware, somatic citizen and are included in the repertoire of participation in the field of health. Following Joelle Zask's notion of participation, we propose to look at clinical encounters as an instances of “taking part” in the field of health through the mutual engagement of diverse forms of knowledge and experience. Through interviews with health professionals and patients diagnosed with asthma, we explore clinical encounters as settings where physicians and patients mutually engage in a process of contesting, sharing and appropriating medical knowledge and information, while recognizing the normative authority of medical knowledge and expertise and the status of biomedicine as a form of veridiction. Clinical encounters are described as processes where citizens qua patients appropriate biomedical knowledge and health information for coping with health problems and the disruptions they generate in their lives, even if their outcomes are uncertain concerning the binding power of medical authority. Patients' engagements with health care services and health professionals and their use of biomedical knowledge for the (self) management of their condition offers a privileged entry point into a neglected dimension of citizen participation in the field of health.

Suggested Citation

  • Nunes, João Arriscado & Ferreira, Patrícia & Queirós, Filipa, 2014. "Taking part: Engaging knowledge on health in clinical encounters," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 194-201.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:123:y:2014:i:c:p:194-201
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.07.017

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    Cited by:

    1. Haw, Jennie & Cunningham, Shannon & O'Doherty, Kieran C., 2018. "Epistemic tensions between people living with asthma and healthcare professionals in clinical encounters," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 208(C), pages 34-40.
    2. Tian, Xiaoli & Zhang, Sai, 2022. "Expert or experiential knowledge? How knowledge informs situated action in childcare practices," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 307(C).
    3. Veltkamp, Gerlieke & Karasaki, Mutsumi & Bröer, Christian, 2020. "Family health competence: Attachment, detachment and health practices in the early years of parenthood," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 266(C).
    4. Dimond, Rebecca & Doheny, Shane & Ballard, Lisa & Clarke, Angus, 2022. "Genetic testing and family entanglements," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 298(C).


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