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Management of Emotions in Accelerated Medical Relationships

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This thesis is the result of an ethnographic fieldwork at a major university hospital inDenmark that I undertook between June 2009 and January 2011. I was an ‘embedded’observer in a cancer clinic and entirely dependent on the staff – administrativeand clinical – for access to facilities, people and diseases. That said, I was neverasked to modify my writings in any way or to show the content of my field notes ortape recordings. Neither does the hospital have any formal share in the overall thesis.The responsibility for the final outcome is on my shoulders alone. As an embeddedobserver I was to handle personally sensitive data, such as specific details in patientrecords, with confidentiality. There is no information in my writings which can betraced – directly or indirectly – back to individual patients or relatives at the hospitaland hence disclose their identity. My observations lasted anywhere from 20 minutes(the length of a typical staff meeting) to five working days in a row. During a day ofobservation, I followed doctors from they arrived in the early mornings; when theyattended the morning conferences, until they left the hospital in the late afternoon afterhours of clinical work in the outpatient clinic. I also followed them in their officesand in the operation theatres. Many tableaux from the thesis you are reading nowwere recorded in my notebook and then reconstructed in the later writing. Whereverpossible, I have used my free access to the hospital to check the accuracy of my writing,for example by procuring typical situations more than once or by going throughprecarious details with involved staff members. Statements that appear in quotationmarks (‘…’) were recorded directly on my tape recorder or in my notebook while theperson was speaking, or immediately hereafter. Through the process I have sharedmy ideas with the staff members involved to make sure that they understood the purposeof my work and also in order for them to have a chance to feel comfortable withmy presence. Throughout the thesis, I have shortened quotes from documents andinterviews in order to make the text more readable. In addition to my fieldwork at the hospital, I have worked with the sociologistNanna Mik-Meyer. In her work, Mik-Meyer has focused on general practitionersand their preoccupation with patients who attend the consultancy with medicallyunexplained symptoms. Parts of the raw data material from some of her previousstudies became the basis of a co-authored article, which is included in this thesis. Utterancesfrom individuals described in this article are directly quoted from a largerquantity of interviews with general practitioners in primary care medicine.

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Anne Roelsgaard Obling

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