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Ann Fam Med. 2010 Mar-Apr;8(2):151-9. doi: 10.1370/afm.1055.

Patients' question-asking behavior during primary care visits: a report from the AAFP National Research Network.

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  • 1American Academy of Family Physicians National Research Network, Leawood, Kansas 66208, USA.



The Ask Me 3 (AM3) health communication program encourages patients to ask specific questions during office visits with the intention of improving understanding of their health conditions and adherence to treatment recommendations. This study evaluated whether implementing AM3 improves patients' question-asking behavior and increases adherence to prescription medications and lifestyle recommendations.


This randomized trial involved 20 practices from the American Academy of Family Physicians National Research Network that were assigned to an AM3 intervention group or a control group. Forty-one physicians in the practices were each asked to enroll at least 20 patients. The patients' visits were audio recorded, and recordings were reviewed to determine whether patients asked questions and which questions they asked. Patients were interviewed 1 to 3 weeks after the visit to assess their recall of physicians' recommendations, rates of prescription filling and taking, and attempts at complying with lifestyle recommendations.


The study enrolled 834 eligible patients in 20 practices. There were no significant difference between the AM3 and control patients in the rate of asking questions, but this rate was high (92%) in both groups. There also were no differences in rates of either filling or taking prescriptions, although rates of these outcomes were fairly high, too. Control patients were more likely to recall that their physician recommended a lifestyle change, however (68% vs 59%, P = .04).


In a patient population in which asking questions already occurs at a high rate and levels of adherence are fairly high, we found no evidence that the AM3 intervention results in patients asking specific questions or more questions in general, or in better adherence to prescription medications or lifestyle recommendations.

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