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Beyond the Chief Complaint: Our Patients’ Worries


Fourth-year medical students at the University of Colorado School of Medicine distributed cards to patients in the emergency department asking, "What Worries You Most?" The patients' responses provided insight about their most pressing concerns, often unrelated to their "chief complaints."

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The authors would like to thank Drs. Brandon Combs, Therese Jones, Steven Lowenstein and Christopher McStay for their guidance and support throughout this project.


This project was funded by an Innovations Grant from the University of Colorado School of Medicine Medical Student Council.

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Correspondence to V. M. Chau.

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Informed verbal consent was obtained from all individual participants included in this study.

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Chau, V.M., Engeln, J.T., Axelrath, S. et al. Beyond the Chief Complaint: Our Patients’ Worries. J Med Humanit 38, 541–547 (2017).

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  • Humanism
  • Communication
  • Patient experience
  • Chief complaints
  • Patient-centered care
  • Provider-patient relationship
  • Emergency department