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Serving & connecting
Within contemporary dentistry, there is a focus on the dentist/patient relationship and the provision of person centred dental care. The Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences at King’s College London prioritises the provision of person centred care, in line with General Dental Council guidelines.
However, one of the challenges that researchers and academics face when teaching the next generation of dentists is to demonstrate how the power inequalities within the dentist/patient relationship can be reflected and reinforced through particular speech patterns and vocabulary. This is essential if students (and practicing dentists) are to become more aware of how they might adapt their speech to make the dynamic between the patient and dentist more equal and balanced. This pilot project arose out of the need to find solutions to this problem.
Sociologist Dr Sasha Scambler and artist Christina Lovey began by discussing how the lived experiences of dental patients might be represented so that the nature of the relationship between the dentist and their patient becomes evident. Communicative musicality, a term that originated to describe nonverbal communications between infants and their carers, where rhythm and pitch create a form of narrative (Malloch, S. Trevarthen C. 2009), was identified as a tool with which to map specific themes within the speech patterns of dentists when talking about their patients and work.
Once identified, the rhythmic and tonal patterns were represented both visually and aurally through notation for visual mapping, a series of prints illustrated vocabulary patterns and tap dancing and other percussive sounds recreated the rhythmic patterns and dynamics of speech.
Ireland's Dental magazine published an article written by Sasha and Christina about the project and its outcomes, which can be read here.
Communicative Musicality and dentists’ speech patterns was a project as part of King's Arts in Dentistry Innovation Programme. The project was a collaboration between King's College London's Department of Population & Patient Health and Christina Lovey. It was supported by the university's Culture team.
Dr Sasha Scambler - academic leadDr Sasha Scambler is a sociologist working within the field of health and healthcare, based at King’s College London Dental Institute. Her research focuses predominantly on the contextualised experiences of people’s encounters with the healthcare system and those who work within it. Sasha is particularly interested in the experiences of people living with long term disabling conditions and the inequalities and barriers faced both in day to day life and when interacting with the healthcare system. This project will allow her to explore different ways that healthcare encounters can be presented and understood and the implications of this for the dentist/patient relationship.
Dr Christina Lovey - artistic leadArtist and academic Dr Christina Lovey works within arts and health, using story, dance, rhythm and performance. Her previous experience includes working as an artist in residence at St. Catherine’s Hospice and working with dyslexic ex-offenders facilitating creative projects. In 2014, Christina set up The Women’s Rhythm Tap Collective and started working with tap dance as a way of developing and supporting creative expression and wellbeing, both within her own artistic practice and as a facilitator. This project will allow her to take her ideas for the use of rhythm as a communicative tool further and to explore how effective this might be as a tool for working in arts and health.
Communicative Musicality and dentists’ speech patterns featured in the Heads up! exhibition in the Arcade at Bush House, 2 – 13 December 2019. The exhibition was the culmination of the Arts in Dentistry Innovation Programme and aimed to showcase how art-science collaborations can illuminate the lived experience of patients and clinicians, bring new perspectives to researchers, and offer innovative approaches to student education.
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