Research reveals most doctor-patient interruptions are cooperative and can enhance interactions

American Academy of Family Physicians

Researchers in the Netherlands observed 84 primary care clinic visits among patients with common health concerns to determine when and how physicians and patients interrupt each other during consultations. Almost 83% of interruptions were cooperative, which preserved the content and flow of interaction and which, for instance, allowed the physician to establish common ground when a patient sought clarification. The researchers also found that the type of interruption was predicted by role, gender and phase of consultation. While male doctors were more likely to make an intrusive interruption than female doctors, male patients were less likely to make an intrusive interruption than female patients. Patients’ interruptions were more likely to be intrusive than physicians’ in the problem presentation phase of the appointment.

A Quantitative Analysis of Physicians’ and Patients’ Interruptions in Clinical Practice

Ilona Plug, MA, Msc, et al

Centre for Language Studies, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

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