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Patient Educ Couns. 2012 Apr;87(1):3-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2011.07.007. Epub 2011 Aug 3.

Physician-child interaction: when children answer physicians' questions in routine medical encounters.

Author information

1
UCLA Department of Sociology, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1551, USA. stivers@soc.ucla.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The objective of the study is to examine predictors of children answering questions during primary care pediatric visits.

METHODS:

Relying on a sample of 322 video-taped community practice encounters, this study identifies predictors of when children answer physicians' questions. Multi-level multivariate regressions were used to model the relationships among communication and socio-demographic variables and whether or not children answered questions pediatricians asked them.

RESULTS:

Whereas race and education predict whether physicians select children to answer questions, these factors are not associated with whether children answer physicians' questions. Instead, a child's performance is associated with communication practices specific to physician-child interaction such as the grammatical type of question and doctor gaze.

CONCLUSION:

Children are less responsive to physicians' questions than their parents but their failure to answer is predictable and thus can be improved. By increasing their participation in the visit, physicians may (a) secure more information about children's health and (b) socialize children to be more pro-active patients.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS:

Physicians can improve the likelihood that children will answer their questions by (a) asking them social questions early in the visit, (b) phrasing their questions as yes-no questions, and (c) and directing their gaze at the children during each question.

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PMID:
21816557
DOI:
10.1016/j.pec.2011.07.007
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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