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Scand J Public Health. 2003;31(2):107-12.

Part process analysis: a qualitative method for studying provider-patient interaction.

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Health Department, Stovner Urban District/Oslo, Ekornvien 4, N-07777, Norway.



Communication between patients and healthcare providers is vital for quality care. Complaints about doctors often arise from unfortunate communication. Research methods suited for the study of relationship and interaction are essential to understand how communication can be improved. The principles and procedures of a qualitative research method with the capacity to explore details and foundations of interaction between patients and doctors is presented.


Anne-Lise Løvlie Schibbye's Part Process Analysis Method is a qualitative approach for studying communication at the microlevel. Attention is drawn both to verbal dialogue and to body communication, and the method is particularly suited for studying relationships and change.


The application of the Part Process Analysis Method is described, exemplified by material from a group discussion between participants and leaders in a group-based treatment programme for women with chronic muscle pain. How the method can be used to explore reciprocity, relationships, and development is demonstrated in this context.


The Part Process Analysis Method is proposed as a useful tool for studying communication between doctor and patient, providing knowledge about relationships and reciprocity, aspects that are important both in doctors' medical work and for patients' feeling of being understood.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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