Expertise as a domain of epistemics in intensive care shift-handovers

Paulien Harms*, Tom Koole, Ninke Stukker, Jaap E. Tulleken

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper examines how expertise is treated as a separable domain of epistemics by looking at simulated intensive care shift-handovers between resident physicians. In these handovers, medical information about a patient is transferred from an outgoing physician (OP) to an incoming physician (IP). These handovers contain different interactional activities, such as discussing the patient identifiers, giving a clinical impression, and discussing tasks and focus points. We found that with respect to (factual) knowledge about the patient, the OPs display an orientation to a knowledge imbalance, but with respect to (clinical) procedures, reasoning, and activities, they display an orientation to a knowledge balance. We use 'expertise' to refer to this latter type of knowledge. 'Expertise' differs from, and adds to, how knowledge is often treated in epistemics in that it is concerned with professional competence or 'knowing how'. In terms of epistemics, the participants in the handovers orient to a steep epistemic or knowledge gradient when it concerns the patient, while simultaneously displaying an orientation to a horizontal expertise gradient.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)636-651
Number of pages16
JournalDiscourse Studies
Issue number5
Early online date16-Sept-2021
Publication statusPublished - 1-Oct-2021


  • conversation analysis
  • intensive care shift-handovers
  • epistemics
  • expertise

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