|Author(s)||John Heritage, Jeffrey D. Robinson|
|Title||The structure of patients' presenting concerns: physicians' opening questions|
|Tag(s)||EMCA, Medical EMCA, Doctor-patient interaction, Opening Questions, Problem Presentation, Conversation Analysis|
This article uses conversation analysis to develop a typology of questions that physicians use to solicit patients' problems and then tests question–format effects on patients' subsequent problem presentations. Data are videotapes of 302 primary-, acute-, and outpatient-care visits involving 77 physicians in 41 urban and rural clinics, as well as pre- and postvisit questionnaires. The most frequent question formats were general inquiries (62%; e.g., "What can I do for you today?") and requests for confirmation (27%; e.g., "I understand you're having some sinus problems today?"). Compared to confirmatory questions, general inquiries were associated with significantly longer problem presentations (p <. 0001) that included more discrete symptoms (p <. 0001). Physicians were more likely to use confirmatory questions in the urban setting (p =. 003).