Communication & Medicine, Vol 6, No 1 (2009)

A controlled study of the effects of patient information-elicitation style on clinician information-giving

Elisabeth H. Sandberg, Debika Paul, Warren S. Sandberg
Issued Date: 13 Jul 2009


Although effective communication improves the quality
of the relationships between patients and medical
clinicians, resulting in better outcomes for patients,
little is known about how patients influence that communication.
Using a controlled, repeated measures design we investigated the role that patient questionasking plays in shaping the communication behaviors of health care providers. Medical students participated in simulated medical consultations with confederate patients adopting different information–elicitation styles. We examined the effects of passive, neutral, and highly-assertive questioning on the quantity of information delivered. Passive patients, who asked no questions and avoided eye contact, received less information (95.4 ± 27.4 discrete items) than neutral patients (122.6 ± 33.0 items). Highly-assertive patients, who engaged in active question-asking, sustained eye contact and used positive body language received the most information (135.6 ± 46.9 items). The greater quantity of information given to highly-assertive patients was not accounted for solely by answers to questions. The increased information delivery elicited by highly-assertive patients is especially important when considered in light of memory limitations.

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DOI: 10.1558/cam.v6i1.73


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