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Med Care. 1990 Jan;28(1):19-28.

Patient information-seeking behaviors when communicating with doctors.

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  • 1Center on Aging, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City.


In order to better understand patient differences in question asking and other information-seeking behaviors when communicating with doctors, 106 rehabilitation medicine patients were studied. Sociodemographic data, attitude measures, interview data and tape recordings of doctor-patient encounters revealed that patients desired information about a wide range of medical topics but did not engage in many information-seeking behaviors when communicating with doctors. While desiring information, patients regarded doctors as the appropriate persons to make medical decisions. Regression analyses indicated that patient information-seeking behaviors were more directly associated with situational variables (length of interaction, diagnosis, reason for visit) than with patient attitudes or sociodemographic characteristics. Patient attitudes influenced patient information-seeking behaviors only for patients with interactions lasting at least 19 minutes, indicating that a longer interaction may be necessary for patient attitudes regarding desire for information and participation in medical decisions to manifest themselves in information-seeking communication behavior.

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