Interaction Exchange Structure and Patient Satisfaction with Medical Interviews

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The verbal interaction between patients and physicians in 52 initial interviews in a university hospital screening clinic was studied using a new discourse coding system. Factor analysis of category frequencies showed that each interview segment, medical history, physical examination, and conclusion, consisted mainly of two or three types of verbal exchange. Patient satisfaction with the interviews, assessed with a questionnaire that yields separate scores for satisfaction with cognitive and affective aspects, was found to be associated with exchanges involving the transmission of information in particular interview segments. Affective satisfaction was associated with transmission of information from patient to physician in “exposition” exchanges during the medical history, in which patients told their story in their own words. Cognitive satisfaction was associated with transmission of information from physician to patient in “feedback” exchanges during the conclusion segment, in which physician gave patients information about illness and treatment.

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