Book Chapter

Managing patients’ expectations in telephone complaints



Benwell B & McCreaddie M (2017) Managing patients’ expectations in telephone complaints. In: Van De Mieroop D & Schnurr S (eds.) Identity Struggles: Evidence from Workplaces around the World. Discourse Approaches to Politics, Society and Culture, 69. Amsterdam/New York: John Benjamins, pp. 243-262.;

In this Conversation Analytical study we examine telephone complaints to the NHS which address a variety of issues raised by patients or their families. One area of ‘identity struggle’ for the patient caller is located in the difficult moral work that often needs to accompany the act of complaining. Complaints are an accountable activity, and legitimacy is ‘built into’ the complaint through a variety of means including invocations of the ‘right’ to complain, emotion discourse and constructions of the self as a ‘good’ or ‘reasonable’ patient. Similarly, identity conflicts arise for complaints handlers when the ideal forms of rapport involved in complaining sequences sometimes come into conflict with the institutionality of the event. It is hoped that a detailed and discursive exploration of this key stage of the patient experience will lead to productive observations about effective communicative strategies for addressing complaints in ways that successfully manage the patient’s expectations.

complaints; affiliation; CA; telephone conversations; NHS

Title of seriesDiscourse Approaches to Politics, Society and Culture
Number in series69
Publication date30/04/2017
PublisherJohn Benjamins
Publisher URL
Place of publicationAmsterdam/New York
ISSN of series1569-9463

People (1)


Dr Bethan Benwell

Dr Bethan Benwell

Senior Lecturer, English Studies