Questions

When the patient is asked a question the doctor tends to take control of the interview, and so directs it along the lines of his or her own thinking or hypothesis generation. The problem is that if questions are used too early in the interview, the amount of desirable information is restricted and may disrupt the true priorities of the patient's concerns.

Open-ended questions and direct questions are very useful at appropriate times, while other questions are very restrictive. Examples, using pain as the 'problem', are:

• Open-ended question: 'Tell me about the pain.'

• Reflected question: 'You want to know the cause of the pain?'

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