In this paper, we discuss how profiles of communicative behaviour can be used to present and analyse information about role activity recorded through structured observation of specific situations. The role activities are encoded as distinctive speech acts. Example profiles resulting from the analysis of three clinicians' communicative behaviour during pre-rounds meetings and ward rounds are given. The examples are based on an observational study performed at a Norwegian university hospital. One fifth-year medical student spent 20 days in two different hospital wards, following 7 physicians from one to seven days each. The observer recorded data from several ward situations such as pre-rounds meetings, ward rounds, and discharge situations. The data was recorded by means of an observation form consisting of a mixture of codes and free-text fields. The data has been post-processed by associating each event with one communicative act. The approach is an efficient and useful means for studying clinicians' information and communication patterns in hospital wards, which can serve as an important tool in the design of new clinical information systems.
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