The Distance Vision Test with its letter chart at the centre, probably is most emblematic of optometric consultations. It involves a client sitting on a chair who encouraged by the optometrist reads lines of letters from a standardised chart. At the end of the test, the optometrist uses the reading performance of the client to determine an initial score for her or his ability to see in the distance. The score often is the starting point for a later test, the Subjective Refraction, that we have written about previously.
Despite the pervasiveness of the Distance Vision Test little is known of the interaction between optometrist and client that leads to the determining of the test score. We have analysed video-recordings of Distance Vision Tests and reveal the professional skill and competence that optometrist use to arrive at the test score. This skill and competence involves in particular a sensitivity to changes in clients’ reading behaviour. The related paper on this has been published (in English) in a Special Issue of the German sociology journal Soziale Welt. It can be found here.
As part of the ESRC funded project The Practical Work of the Optometrist Helena Webb, Christian Heath, Dirk vom Lehn, Will Gibson and Bruce Evans have published an article concerned with the opening of optometric consultations in the journal Research on Language and Social Interaction. The paper particularly explored the sensitivity clients display to the use of the word ‘problem’ in the opening questions of the history taking.
The Problem With “Problems”: The Case of Openingsin Optometry Consultations
This article contributes to conversation analytic understanding of openings in health-care consulta-tions. It focuses on the case of optometry: a form of health-care practice in which an optometristconducts checks of a patient’s vision and eye health. Patients are advised to attend regularly for rou-tine assessments and can also request a speciﬁc appointment at any time. Analysis of a corpus of 66 consultations shows what happens when the optometrist’s opening question solicits the client’s“problems” with their eyes. We ﬁnd three types of patient response. Patients who have requested aspeciﬁc appointment (most often) report a problem with their eyes and establish a problem-purposeencounter. Patients attending for a routinely timed appointment either report no problems and estab-lish a routine-assessment purpose, or if they do have a problem, they delay reporting it or downplay it.We track through what happens subsequently. The ﬁndings have practical implications for diagnosisand treatment.
As part of the ESR funded project Will Gibson, Helena Webb and Dirk vom Lehn have published a paper that explores new ways in which a reflection on the use of transcript in the examination of video-recorded interaction can aid the analysis.
Analytic Affordance: Transcripts as Conventionalised Systems in Discourse Studies
This article explores the role of transcripts in the analysis of social action. Drawing on a study of the interactional processes in optometry consultations, we show how our interest in the rhythm of reading letters from a chart arose serendipitously from our orientation to transcription conventions. We discuss our development of alternative transcription systems, and the affordances of each. We relate this example to constructivist debates in the area of transcription and argue that the issues have been largely characterised in political terms at the expense of a focus on the actual processes of transcription. We show here that analytic affordances emerge through an orientation to professional conventions. The article ends by suggesting that a close reflection on the design of transcripts and on transcription innovation can lead to more nuanced analysis as it puts the researcher in dialogue with the taken for granted ideas embedded in a system.
The article is on Early View at Sociology and with access can be downloaded here.