How should trainees be taught to open a clinical interview?

Alex Walter, Chris Bundy, Tim Dornan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    AIM: To characterise the opening of secondary care consultations. METHOD: We audio-taped 17 first consultations in medical clinics, transcribed them verbatim, and analysed verbal interactions from when the doctor called the patient into the consulting room to when she or he asked clarifying questions. RESULTS: The interviews did not open with the sequence, reported by previous researchers, of 'doctor's soliciting question, patient's opening statement, interruption by the doctor'. Doctors (1) called the patient to the consultation; (2) greeted them; (3) introduced themselves; (4) made a transition to clinical talk; and (5) framed the consultation. They used a referral letter, the case notes, computer records and their prior knowledge of the patient to help frame the consultation, and did so informally and with humour. CONCLUSION: These 5 steps could help trainees create a context for active listening that is less prone to interruption.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)492-496
    Number of pages4
    JournalMedical education
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 2005


    • *Physician-patient relations
    • And consultation/*methods
    • Communication
    • Education
    • Medical
    • Referra
    • Undergraduate/*methods


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