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Academia and the Profession |

The Effect of Physician Behavior on the Collection of Data

HOWARD B. BECKMAN, M.D.; and RICHARD M. FRANKEL, Ph.D.
[+] Article and Author Information

Grant support: in part by grant PE 15226-04 from the U. S. Public Health Service, and the Ruth Mott Fund, Flint, Michigan.

Presented April 1983 at the Fourth Annual SREPCIM Task Force on Interviewing, Washington, D.C.

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Howard B. Beckman, M.D.; Pod 5C, University Health Center, 4201 St. Antoine; Detroit, MI 48201.


Detroit, Michigan


©1984 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1984;101(5):692-696. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-101-5-692
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Determining the patient's major reasons for seeking care is of critical importance in a successful medical encounter. To study the physician's role in soliciting and developing the patient's concerns at the outset of a clinical encounter, 74 office visits were recorded. In only 17 (23%) of the visits was the patient provided the opportunity to complete his or her opening statement of concerns. In 51 (69%) of the visits the physician interrupted the patient's statement and directed questions toward a specific concern; in only 1 of these 51 visits was the patient afforded the opportunity to complete the opening statement. In six (8%) return visits, no solicitation whatever was made. Physicians play an active role in regulating the quantity of information elicited at the beginning of the clinical encounter, and use closed-ended questioning to control the discourse. The consequence of this controlled style is the premature interruption of patients, resulting in the potential loss of relevant information.

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