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How long should we talk to patients? A study in doctor-patient communication.
  1. V Wright,
  2. R Hopkins,
  3. K Burton


    The 13 questions to which 173 rheumatic outpatients most frequently wished to know the answer were made the basis of a structured interview. Two lengths of interview were conducted in a controlled trial (short being of 2 minutes' duration, long ranging from 4 to 11 minutes). Sixty patients referred directly from their general practitioners, and not being in any of the remedial professions, were randomly assigned to one of the 2 groups. They were tested by an independent observer immediately after interview, and one month later at their return appointment, by means of a questionnaire that covered the 13 items of information given to all the patients. The longer interview resulted in significantly more information being retained. Of individual questions only 3 scored significantly better with the longer interview--that about the reasons for x-rays immediately after interview, and the role of heredity and the place of rest at delayed recall.

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