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Pediatrics. 1982 Sep;70(3):396-402.

Physician communication with children and parents.


The way physicians communicate with patients has been shown to affect physiologic measurements, adherence to therapeutic regimens, and satisfaction with medical care. The purpose of this study was to document the content of medical interviews in routine pediatric visits and to identify demographic and situational characteristics that influenced the extent of communication between doctor and child. One hundred fifteen office visits to 49 physicians were videotaped and analyzed. Children studied were 4 to 14 years old with a mean age of 8.5 years. Verbal transactions were coded according to direction of communication, transaction type, and content category. Coder reliability for this system was 0.84. A considerable amount of the total communication, 45.5%, was between doctor and child. Doctors interacted differently with parents and children. More information about the current problem was obtained from children; physicians provided feedback primarily to parents. Parents received 4.4. times as much information as children about the nature and prognosis of a condition. The extent to which doctors talked to children in "substantive" areas was primarily associated with a child's age (r = .52, P less than .001) but was partly influenced by family size (r = .20, P less than .05) and family utilization (r = .22, P less than .02). Race, socioeconomic status, type of problem, and previous encounter with the examining physician did not alter communication patterns. Boys were given more information than girls (6.5% vs 4.0%, P less than .01). We suggest a theoretical framework for future investigation and teaching that identifies the child as an active participant in the medical process.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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