Comprehending adverbs of doubt and certainty in health communication: A multidimensional scaling approach

Segalowitz, Norman S., Doucerain, Marina M., Meuter, Renata F.I., Zhao, Yue, Hocking, Julia, & Ryder, Andrew G. (2016) Comprehending adverbs of doubt and certainty in health communication: A multidimensional scaling approach. Frontiers in Psychology, 7(Article 558).

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This research explored the feasibility of using multidimensional scaling (MDS) analysis in novel combination with other techniques to study comprehension of epistemic adverbs expressing doubt and certainty (e.g., evidently, obviously, probably) as they relate to health communication in clinical settings. In Study 1, Australian English speakers performed a dissimilarity-rating task with sentence pairs containing the target stimuli, presented as "doctors' opinions". Ratings were analyzed using a combination of cultural consensus analysis (factor analysis across participants), weighted-data classical-MDS, and cluster analysis. Analyses revealed strong within-community consistency for a 3-dimensional semantic space solution that took into account individual differences, strong statistical acceptability of the MDS results in terms of stress and explained variance, and semantic configurations that were interpretable in terms of linguistic analyses of the target adverbs. The results confirmed the feasibility of using MDS in this context. Study 2 replicated the results with Canadian English speakers on the same task. Semantic analyses and stress decomposition analysis were performed on the Australian and Canadian data sets, revealing similarities and differences between the two groups. Overall, the results support using MDS to study comprehension of words critical for health communication, including in future studies, for example, second language speaking patients and/or practitioners. More broadly, the results indicate that the techniques described should be promising for comprehension studies in many communicative domains, in both clinical settings and beyond, and including those targeting other aspects of language and focusing on comparisons across different speech communities.

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ID Code: 95373
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: health communication, epistemic adverbs, multidimensional scaling, semantic space, cultural consensus, uncertainty in health communication, physician-patient relations
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00558
ISSN: 1664-1078
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2016 The Author(s)
Deposited On: 05 May 2016 00:15
Last Modified: 06 May 2016 01:32

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