With Valentine’s day right around the corner you’re undoubtedly being bombarded with ads for flowers, candy, or other gifts to show someone you really care about them. This got us thinking- what is love? Okay okay, that’s not necessarily a question we can answer here, but what we can answer is- how do people talk about “love”?
When we took to the database of over 100,000 patient physician conversations to answer this question, our first step was to see just in just how many conversation the word “love” appears. Surprisingly, we found that there were only over 13,000 conversations mentioning this iconic word. But, what were they actually saying?
In a large majority of the conversations love was being used to describe feelings about another person, an idea, an action, or a desire.
Many patients discuss “love” in terms of romantic love, such as love for a significant other. However this isn’t so much the case for physicians, who often discussed love in terms of wants: how they’d “love to” have something or how they “love to” do an activity.
While there are clear differences between physicians and patients, there is one big overlap around how the word is often being used- from first person. Both physician and patients alike use “love” to describe their emotions, their wants, and their feelings in a reflective statement.
So what does this tell us? That we use the word “love” for too many things? Not necessarily. The use of “love” primarily in the first person and connected to feelings and desires, highlights how physicians and patients share close personal information in a given conversation, and speaks to level of rapport possible in this relationship.
It’s easy to view patients or physicians in a “box” based on their role in health management, but maybe there’s more to this relationship than at first look. The University of Berkely shared evidence that mindful physicians have happier patients, because they focused on other aspects of the patient’s experience besides just treating illnesses. Perhaps, “love” should be more a part of the conversation too.
Shannon Sysko is an Analyst at Verilogue. She completed her BA and MA from the University of Delaware, focusing on Applied Linguistics. When she’s not analyzing what people say and how they say it, she enjoys traveling and marathoning TV shows.
Verilogue offers fly-on-the-wall access to candid healthcare conversations between patients and their healthcare providers. Verilogue’s trained linguists analyze these dialogues using their expertise, and provide unique insights for our clients. Reach out with questions or comments via the below form!.