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Tufts OpenCourseware
Author: Jonathan Schindelheim, M.D.

Medical Interviewing and the Doctor-Patient Relationship
Fall 2011
J. Schindelheim, MD
Tufts University School of Medicine

Basic Professionalism & Interviewing Techniques


As a medical professional, you will interact with patients/residents differently than you have interacted with other people as there are many goals to each patient encounter: establishing rapport, collecting data, extending support, among others. There are certain interviewing techniques and behaviors that optimize both the collection of information and the creation of a successful doctor-patient relationship. Some of these techniques and behaviors will be presented but successful interviewing that combines these skills in a fluent manner requires repeated use and practice. At the same time, you must also respect patient confidentiality, be thoughtful about ethical issues that arise, and ensure that you are not judgmental as part of professionalism. In this course we will focus on the techniques and behaviors that create a professional doctor-patient relationship and an environment for effective interviewing and history taking. Subsequent use of the information collected requires organizing it into a coherent story that can be presented to others.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the lecture, you will be able to:

  • Describe the behaviors that create and enhance the doctor-patient relationship

  • Describe techniques that facilitate the flow of information from the patient.

  • Identify ways of demonstrating professionalism in the clinical encounter in order to create a professional and therapeutic doctor-patient relationship.

Specific competencies students are expected to perform within the context of practice after this lecture

  1. Cultivate an environment of professionalism in dealing with patients.

  2. Cultivate an environment of professionalism in dealing with patients.

    1. Act with humility.

  3. Create a relationship with a patient/resident that supports effective interviewing and history-taking.

    1. Demonstrate how to guide a medical encounter in order to accomplish your agenda.

    2. Use language that is not judgmental.

    3. Listen to patients and avoid interruption unless it is necessary.

  4. Behave in a professional manner, appropriate for your interviewing site.

  5. Behave in a professional manner in establishing an effective student doctor-patient relationship.

Recommended Readings

S. Cohen-Cole, The Medical Interview, the three-function approach St. Louis : Mosby, c2000

M. Lee, "The Effective Interview: A Few Quick Do's and Don'ts"