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Physicians’ interviewing styles and medical information obtained from patients


This paper investigates the association between physicians’ interviewing styles and medical information obtained during simulated patient encounters. The sources of data are audiotapes and transcripts of two standardized patient cases presented by trained patient simulators to 43 primary care practitioners. Transcripts were scored for physician proficiency using expert-generated criteria and were content-analyzed to assess the process of communication and information content. Relevant patient disclosure was also scored from the transcripts based on expert-generated criteria. Findings were: 1) On the whole, physicians elicited only slightly more than 50% of the medical information considered important according to expert consensus, with a range from 9% to 85%. 2) Both open and closed questions were substantially related to patient disclosure of medical information to the physician, but open questions were substantially more so (Pearson correlations of 0.37 and 0.72, respectively). 3) Patient education, particularly information regarding prognosis, cause, and prevention, was substantially related to patient disclosure of medical information to the physician (Pearson correlations of 0.44, 0.36, and 0.34, respectively). 5) Finally, clinical expertise was only weakly associated with patient disclosure of medical information to the physician (Pearson correlation of 0.16).

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Supported by NIMH grant R01 MH38037.

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Roter, D.L., Hall, J.A. Physicians’ interviewing styles and medical information obtained from patients. J Gen Intern Med 2, 325–329 (1987).

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