Laura is a research fellow at the Centre for Research on Communication and Culture. She specialises in recording and analysing social interaction, and developing communication skills training. Her research focuses on ways of raising sensitive matters like death and dying, and understanding how to support people to describe complex sensations and experiences like pain, allergic reactions and loss of consciousness.

Laura’s background is Psychology (BSc) and Health Psychology (MSc). She obtained her PhD at Loughborough University in 2013, using Conversation Analysis to examine how children talk about pain at home with their families. Her post-doctoral work has been based at the University of Sheffield, the University of Nottingham and now Loughborough University.

Her teaching responsibilities have included leading undergraduate and postgraduate modules in: statistics; developmental psychology; and applied conversation analysis.

Laura examines audio and video-recordings of real-life interactions using an approach called conversation analysis, to understand how people interact in a range of everyday and medical settings.

Her research within neurology, paediatrics and palliative care highlights strategies for engaging patients and supporting them to describe complex sensations. She has studied how adults and children express bodily sensations and experiences like pain and seizures; how doctors’ can encourage patients to provide more details about their symptoms; and the ways that children contribute to healthcare encounters.

One benefit of producing detailed, empirical understandings of communication is the opportunity to develop evidenced-based communication resources. Laura has been involved in designing and delivering conversation analytic training for doctors in the seizure clinic, to change how they ask their patients questions in order to identify linguistic details that can help distinguish between epilepsy and non-epileptic seizures.

As part of the VERDIS team, Laura has also developed video-based communication training materials for health professionals based on her analysis of interactions between doctors and patients in a large palliative care hospice in the U.K. The resources she has designed are based on her research into how doctors and patients manage sensitive topics around dying, and how pain is described by patients and assessed by doctors. You can find the training materials here:

Laura is also involved in research projects that examine: how children become involved in medical consultations; conversations about risk of anaphylaxis and decisions to prescribe adrenaline auto-injectors in paediatric allergy discussions; and parent-child interaction during family mealtimes.

Key publications

  • Jenkins, L., Parry, R., & Pino, M. (in press) Providing opportunities for patients to say more about their pain without overtly asking: A conversation analysis of doctors repeating patient answers in palliative care pain assessment. Applied Linguistics
  • Jenkins, L., Hepburn, A., & MacDougall, C. (2020) How and why children instigate talk in pediatric allergy consultations: A conversation analytic account. Social Science & Medicine, 113291
  • Jenkins, L., Cosgrove, J., Chappell, P., Kheder, A., Sokhi, D., & Reuber, M. (2016) Neurologists can identify diagnostic linguistic features during routine seizure clinic interactions: results of a one-day teaching intervention. Epilepsy & Behavior, 64, 257-261
  • Jenkins, L., & Hepburn, A. (2015) Children’s sensations as interactional phenomena: A conversation analysis of children’s expressions of pain and discomfort. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 12 (4), 472-491
  • Jenkins, L., & Reuber, M. (2014) A conversation analytic intervention to help neurologists identify diagnostically relevant linguistic features in seizure patients’ talk. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 47 (3), 266-279