Metaphors for patient education. A pragmatic-argumentative approach applying to the case of diabetes care

Maria Grazia Rossi

Abstract


The purpose of this article is to investigate metaphors as argumentative devices in the context of communication in chronic care and, more specifically, in diabetes care. While scholars have compellingly insisted on the strong cognitive power of metaphors in communication and education (BLACK 1962, BURGERS, KONIJN and STEEN 2016, GIORA 2003, HESSE 1963, LOW 2008, ORTONY 1975, STEEN 2008, 2011), these insights have barely received attention in the field of health communication (CASARETT et al. 2010, DEMJEN, SEMINO & KOLLER 2016; DEMMEN et al. 2015, NAIK et al. 2011). This article introduces the main theoretical and practical problems with respect to the relationship between metaphors and argumentation, in both fields of health communication and philosophy of language. We will adopt a pragmatic-argumentative model of verbal communication with the final aim to propose a theoretical framework useful to evaluate metaphors in clinical contexts. The theoretical step discussed in this article constitutes the preliminary phase of a larger research program – Metaphors for diabetes – devoted to test the educational aptness of diabetes metaphors, in order to propose them as evidence-based instruments to health providers for patient education.

Keywords


metaphor, argumentation, patient education, diabetes, perspective change

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