- Actions speak louder than words: the embodiment of trust by healthcare professionals in gynae-oncology
- Sociology of Health and Illness
- Volume | Issue number
- 33 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Trust is vital for quality healthcare outcomes, yet existing research neglects the ‘embodiedness’ of the interactions on which trust is based. This article draws on qualitative data from semi-structured interviews with cervical cancer patients. The significance of body work in winning or, on occasions, undermining trust emerged as a key theme within the responses. Interpretations of professionals’ verbal and non-verbal presentations-of-self were often mutually reinforcing and intrinsically linked - forming a more general locus of meaning from which assumptions of competence and care were drawn. Yet it also became apparent that, whilst verbal communication was useful in establishing the agenda of the professional in relation to that of the patient, it was body work which was crucial in corroborating and validating beliefs pertaining to the ability and willingness of the professional to deliver this agenda in the future. The multi-temporal nature of trust makes apparent how certain seemingly distinct forms of body work - as presentation-of-self versus more hands-on modes - are inherently intertwined. Trust, and the affective relationship in which it is rooted, bridges the present with the future and thus makes apparent how seemingly ‘detached’ forms of body work are connected to the emotion-work of the caring role and the craftwork of body work as touch.
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