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Two Words to Improve Physician-Patient Communication: What Else?

      The medical interview is the physician's initial and perhaps most important diagnostic procedure, but physicians vary in their abilities and skills in physician-patient communication. Information gathering, relationship building, and patient education are the 3 essential functions of the medical interview. A physician-centered interview using a biomedical model can impede disclosure of problems and concerns. A patient-centered approach can facilitate patient disclosure of problems and enhance physician-patient communication. This, in turn, can improve health outcomes, patient compliance, and patient satisfaction and may decrease malpractice claims. Physicians can improve their communication skills through continuing education and practice.
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      Questions About Physician-Patient Communication

      • 1.
        Which one of the following is true about a patientcentered interview?
        • a.
          It takes more time than a physician-centered interview
        • b.
          It elicits only psychosocial information about the patient
        • c.
          It uses continuers to allow patients to express all their concerns
        • d.
          It is applicable only to an extended visit, such as a general medical examination
        • e.
          It means only the patient determines the agenda
      • 2.
        Which one of the following best describes why the physician interrupts the patient during a physician-centered interview?
        • a.
          The patient has disclosed all his or her concerns
        • b.
          About 18 seconds of the interview has passed
        • c.
          The patient is rambling
        • d.
          The physician wants to clarify and check understanding of information
        • e.
          The physician wants to express empathy and concern
      • 3.
        Which one of the following describes the key functions of the medical interview?
        • a.
          Diagnosis and treatment
        • b.
          Information gathering and patient education
        • c.
          Information gathering, relationship building, and patient education
        • d.
          Information gathering and patient partnership
        • e.
          Diagnosis and patient compliance
      • 4.
        Which one of the following is the optimal approach for giving the patient information during the medical interview?
        • a.
          Provide printed material about the patient's condition
        • b.
          Explain the condition and treatment carefully
        • c.
          Answer the patient's questions carefully
        • d.
          Use an ask-tell-ask format
        • e.
          Be brief and concise
      • 5.
        Which one of the following is true regarding the patient-centered interview?
        • a.
          It has no effect on malpractice claims
        • b.
          It can improve health outcomes
        • c.
          It improves patient satisfaction but not physician efficiency
        • d.
          It is a consumerist approach
        • e.
          It does not affect patient compliance

      Correct answers:
      1. c, 2. b, 3. c, 4. d, 5. b