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Ment Health Fam Med. 2008 Sep;5(3):183-7.

'Well doctor, it is all about how life is lived': cues as a tool in the medical consultation.


Introduction During consultations, the perspective of the patient and the family physician come together. In order to reach a shared view about the symptoms it is important to know the agenda of the patient. Cues (i.e. non-explicit remarks that can enclose a special meaning) can serve as a tool to clarify the agenda.Case report In this article, we describe a patient with unexplained palpitations during vacuuming. During one of the following consultations she provided an important psychosocial cue which changed my perspective on her palpitations, resulting in a deeper understanding of her symptoms.Discussion Recognition and exploration of cues is important for reaching mutual understanding of doctors and patients about the symptoms. Moreover, it enhances the therapeutic relationship and improves illness outcomes and patient satisfaction.Conclusion Noticing cues in the medical consultation helps the doctor to understand the patient's real worries. It gives us, as doctors, a better understanding of the patient's perspective.


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