1st Edition

The Role of Language in Eastern and Western Health Communication

By Jack Pun Copyright 2023
    268 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Jack Pun’s book offers the latest research in a variety of health communication settings to highlight the cultural differences between the East and the West.

    It focuses on the various clinical strands in health communication such as doctor-patient interactions, nurse handover, and cross-disciplinary communication to provide a broad, comprehensive overview of the complexity and heterogeneity of health communication in the Chinese context, which is gradually moving beyond a preference for Western-based models to one that considers the local culture in understanding and interpreting medical encounters. The content highlights the cultural difference between the East and the West and focuses on how traditional Chinese values underpin the nature of clinical communication in various clinical settings and how Chinese patients and practitioners conduct themselves during medical encounters. The book also covers various topics that are unique to Chinese contexts such as the use of traditional Chinese medicine in primary care, and how clinicians translate Western models of communication when working in Chinese contexts with Chinese patients.

    This volume will appeal to researchers working in health communication in both the East and the West as well as clinicians interested in understanding what makes effective communication with multicultural patient cohorts.

    1. Introduction 2. The methodological approaches and major themes of health communication in Asian contexts 3. Researching doctor-patient interactions in emergency department  4. Researching clinician-to-clinician communication during clinical nurse handovers  5. Researching communication in high-risk clinical settings: The voices of doctors and nurses working in the Intensive Care Unit  6. Researching communication in high-risk clinical settings: Intensive Care Unit (patients’ voices)  7. Researching the teaching of communication practices for medical students 8. Researching communication on end-of-life conversations  9. Researching Traditional Chinese Medicine communication  10. Researching Veterinary Medicine communication  11. Applications from the health communication research  12. Teaching health communication in a Chinese Context: Developing training for clinicians in the Chinese context and ideas for teachers and course designers 13. Conclusion: Closing the gap between research and practice


    Jack Pun is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the City University of Hong Kong. As a bilingual speaker of Chinese and English, he is motivated to investigate the effectiveness of health communication, including how it influences patient satisfaction, from a cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary perspective. He is especially interested in how effective communication enhances our understanding of the challenges and expectations in healthcare in international hospital settings. Jack is also a founding member of the Institute for Communication in Healthcare (ICH) at the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.

    "Jack Pun’s book serves as a valuable compendium that highlights cultural differences in health communication in the Chinese context and Western-based approaches. The author’s innovative research significantly expands understanding of healthcare communications in complex multilingual, multicultural Chinese contexts, and extends and complements prior work in this area. Highly recommended for all medical care professionals, faculty, and scholars, not only in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia but more broadly, as the lessons from the author’s approach and analysis add significantly to healthcare communication discourse and perspectives."

    Elizabeth A. Rider, MSW, MD, FAAP, FACH, Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, United States

    "This extensively researched book focuses on methodological and conceptual issues in studying the role of language in health communication. Its coverage, from emergency and intensive care to training of medical students and traditional Chinese medicine, is most impressive. And the location of the studies in Hong Kong raises important questions for intercultural encounters with far-reaching implications for policy and practice."

    Li Wei, PhD, Director, Dean and Professor, UCL Institute of Education, United Kingdom

    "Jack has put together the latest research and agenda from a range of different clinical disciplines in health communication with a particular focus on interaction between health professionals and patients. This book serves as an essential reference to students, researchers, and clinicians who want to explore the similarities and differences in health communication between the East and the West. I highly recommend the book to everybody working in the field of health communication and those researching, teaching, and practicing in Asia and worldwide."

    Peter J. Schulz, PhD, Professor & Director, the Institute of Communication and Health, University of Lugano, Switzerland

    "Jack provides an insightful assessment of the complex nature of health communication in multilingual environments in Hong Kong, from the chaos of the emergency department to challenging oncology settings. He employs detailed, granular linguistic analysis of interviews and witnessed clinician-patient interactions as well as interdisciplinary teams to build a rich understanding of how context, bias, language, and communication style impact all aspects of patient care. Pun’s research helps unlock the complex dynamics, challenges and opportunities present in healthcare settings in Hong Kong."

    Esterbrook Longmaid III, MD, Former President of the Medical Staff, Beth Israel-Deaconess Hospital-Milton; Former faculty, Harvard Medical School

    "Symptoms are a form of communication, and they are the patient’s description of their perception of abnormal sensations. When healthcare professionals really attend to the patient’s story, patients are more likely to ask questions, decode the information about what their symptoms mean, and participation in self-management.The book can enhance our understanding of the art and science of health communication so we can gain deeper meaning of patients’ symptoms and avoidance of selection bias and clinical errors."

    Albert Lee, MBBS, LLB, Emeritus Professor, Public Health and Primary Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Consultant in Family Medicine

    "Recognizing the pivotal role of cultural context in communication, this book offers a fresh lens in addressing health communication in Asian Contexts.  The expression of East meet West is no longer a rhetoric but an evidence-based understanding, I would highly recommend this book to practitioners, educators, and researchers in the realm of health communication."

    Engle Angela Chan, PhD, RN, Professor and Interim Head, School of Nursing, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

    "Jack’s book also provides a good platform for Chinese Medicine practitioners to learn how to how to communicate with the patients and delivery precise and effective information for them especially in current modern society."

    Linda Zhong, PhD, Director of Biomedical Sciences and Chinese Medicine, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

    "Jack’s book deprivileges globalized norms of Western medicine as properly enlivened by the highly-contexted and authentic communications of doctors, nurses, and patients negotiating values, in real time, for emergency care, treatment, diagnosis, prognosis, and during end-of-life conversations. Drawing upon the immediacy and energy of Hong Kong context, the value and importance of Pun’s research extends beyond to embrace a newer paradigm for the Asia-based medical professions. The book will be relevant for practitioners working in today’s brick-and-mortar hospitals and for those facilitating the internet-based medical consultations of tomorrow."

    Stuart Christie, PhD, Acting Dean, Faculty of Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University

    "Jack has put together multiple case studies to examine the role of language in different medical encounters. The book showcases the latest research in a variety of health communication settings to highlight cultural differences between East and West. It is a must-read for researchers, clinicians and students aspiring to understand better what contributes to effective health communication with multicultural patient cohorts."
    May O. Lwin, Chair and President’s Chair Professor of Communication Studies, Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI), Nanyang Technological University Singapore

    "This book is a unique contribution to the field of health communication research, providing a comprehensive overview of health communication research and practice in the Chinese context and a detailed discussion of the cultural differences between the East and the West. It is a must read for all students, researchers and practitioners interested in health care practices around the world. Jack is an outstanding scholar in this field and I commend this book unreservedly."

    Diana Slade, Professor and Director of the Institute for Communication in Health Care, Australian National University