Perioperative communication and decision making: a social science perspective
This talk will present a series of perioperative studies, most using a focused ethnographic approach, that exhibit the ability of social science to generate novel descriptive models that reframe debates in policy and ethics and, in turn, reveal new paths for research and intervention.
Because of the high stakes of surgical intervention and related care, communication between doctors and patients as they make decisions in the perioperative space has garnered substantial attention from researchers, policymakers, and ethicists. Perioperative medicine figures prominently in national and international discussions about, for example, how best to involve patients in their care, the role of informed consent, the appropriateness of intervention vs. palliation at end of life, and how to communicate about pain amidst an ongoing opioid crisis. Yet despite the centrality of perioperative medicine to these issues, it is only recently that the methodological and theoretical toolkit of the social sciences has been applied to the empirical analysis of perioperative communication and decision making in robust fashion.