Effective information exchange and care orientation in Covid-19-related contact tracing phone calls. An applied sociolinguistic and conversation analytic enquiry into optimizing interactional dynamics and pragmatic awareness.

01 November 2020 → 31 October 2021
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Discourse analysis
    • Pragmatics
    • Sociolinguistics
  • Medical and health sciences
    • Health and community services
    • Health counselling
Pragmatic linguistic awareness Interactional practices Task-oriented information exchange
Project description

Responding to a number of urgent problems noted in the area of Covid-19 contact tracing (reluctance to give information, lack of care orientation, script-dominated talk), this project analyses and seeks to optimize the interactional functioning of the contact tracing phone call services coordinated by the Flemish Agency for Health & Care. It combines 4 objectives: (i) diagnosis of interactional practice in 3 cycles of data collection and analysis (incl. 1 cycle on encounters in other languages than Dutch); (ii) recommendations for practice, the development of training materials and a recruitment package; (iii) a pilot implementation followed by an efficacy measurement; and (iv) societal impact on the general public’s support for contact tracing. The project inserts itself in an applied, interactional sociolinguistic and conversation analytic research tradition on medical encounters and institutional interviewing on sensitive topics. It addresses a current gap in (i) fundamental knowledge about the linguistic interactional dynamics of contact tracing calls as a specific type of institutional encounter and (ii) applied knowledge on how to improve task-oriented efficiency and enhance pragmatic awareness of practitioners as a dimension of professional reflexivity in a currently, important domain of combatting and containing the Covid-19 pandemic. The project benefits from close collaboration between relevant linguistic, medical and ethical expertise.