Telenursing is an expanding service in most Western societies. Sweden is a front-line country, with all of its 21 counties connected to Swedish Healthcare Direct (SHD) 1177. The intention of the service is twofold: to make health care more efficient, while also making it more accessible and safe for patients. Previous research has shown, however, that the service is not used equitably. Gender, age, socio-economic, and ethnicity differences have been reported as determining factors for the use of the service and the advice given.
The aim of the study was to explore the communication between telenurses and callers in authentic calls to SHD 1177.
A qualitative method, using critical discourse analysis (CDA), was chosen. The approach was deductive, that is, the analysis was made in view of a predetermined framework of theory. Twenty calls were strategically chosen and included in the study.
The CDA resulted in five types of calls, namely a gatekeeping call, a gendered call, a call marked by impersonal traits, a call with voices of the life world, and finally a counter discourse call. The dominating patterns in the calls were of gatekeeping and biomedical character. Patterns of the societal gender order were found, in that representations of the reluctant male caller and the ideal female caller were identified, but also a call representing a counter discourse. The service seemed difficult to use for patients with low language proficiency.
Telenursing could potentially challenge inequalities in health care. However, the discourse of telenursing is dialectically related to neoliberal ideology and the ideology of medicine. It is also situated in a gendered context of ideal femininity and hegemonic masculinity. Through better awareness of gender biases and the callers’ different resources for making themselves heard, the communication between telenurse and caller might become more equal and thereby better suitable for all callers.
2014. Vol. 9, no 24255