Discourse types and (re)distribution of responsibility in simulated emergency team encounters


  • Gøril Thomassen Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Ellen Andenæs Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Stine Gundrosen Trondheim University Hospital, St Olavs Hospital
  • Srikant Sarangi Aalborg University




activity type, discourse types, metacommentary, offline commentary, online commentary, simulated emergency medicine, team talk


Successful teamwork, constitutive of team talk, depends largely on shared responsibility in the coordination of tasks in a goal-oriented way. This paper examines how specific modes of talk or ‘discourse types’ are utilised by a healthcare team in simulated emergency care. The data corpus comprises six video-recorded simulation training sessions in an emergency department at a large Norwegian hospital. Our analysis focuses on the critical moment when the original healthcare team is joined by other specialists in an ad hoc manner, which necessitates the (re)distribution of expert responsibility in the management of the patient’s condition. We examine the interactional trajectories and, in particular, the discourse types surrounding the critical moment which marks the incorporation of the new team members. The analysis centres on three discourse types (online commentary, offline commentary and metacommentary) that are utilised in accomplishing the multiple tasks in a collaborative and coordinated fashion. We suggest that team talk overlays and overlaps with distributed medical work in highly charged decision-making contexts such as emergency care. The findings have relevance for how healthcare professionals and students are trained in multidisciplinary team talk and teamwork.

Author Biographies

Gøril Thomassen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Gøril Thomassen Hammerstad received her PhD in applied linguistics from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNu) and is currently Professor at the NTNu’s Department of Language and Literature. Her research interests are within applied linguistics and professional discourse studies, including discourse analysis of various forms of healthcare communication.

Ellen Andenæs, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Ellen Andenæs is Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics at the Department of Language and Literature at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and she is one of the coordinators of the department’s research group on health communication and ethics. Her research interests are professional discourse, multimodal communication and diversity in the healthcare sector.

Stine Gundrosen, Trondheim University Hospital, St Olavs Hospital

Stine Gundrosen is Head of Medical Simulation Centre at St Olavs Hospital Trondheim, University Hospital, Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging, Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Her research interests are in team talk in emergency settings. Her doctoral research is concerned with team communication in simulated and in real clinical emergency encounters.

Srikant Sarangi, Aalborg University

Srikant Sarangi is currently Professor in Humanities and Medicine and Director of the Danish Institute of Humanities and Medicine (DIHM) at Aalborg university, Denmark. He continues as Honorary Professor at Cardiff university. He is author and editor of twelve books, guest-editor of six journal special issues and has published over two hundred journal articles and book chapters. He is editor of Text & Talk, Communication & Medicine and Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice.


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How to Cite

Thomassen, G., Andenæs, E., Gundrosen, S., & Sarangi, S. (2017). Discourse types and (re)distribution of responsibility in simulated emergency team encounters. Communication and Medicine, 13(1), 51–70. https://doi.org/10.1558/cam.32148