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J Fam Pract. 1981 Nov;13(6):827-35.

Children as patients: a communications process study in family practice.


To determine how family physicians divide their attention between children and parents, 115 videotaped pediatric encounters of children (aged 4 to 14 years) and parents with family physicians in a family medicine center were analyzed. It was learned that physicians tended to involve children actively in the diagnostic stages of interviews but much less so in discussions of treating or dealing with their problems. Physicians did not alter this pattern as they advanced in training. Older children were more likely to receive direct communication from physicians in all phases of office encounters. Though the family physicians in this sample had more direct communication with children than reported in previous research, it is argued that greater involvement of children in all phases of pediatric visits is warranted. A developmental framework indicates that children gradually evolve their attitudes, concepts, and behaviors around illness and health. Family physicians and family medicine programs are in an excellent position to explore and utilize the practice of actively incorporating a child in a medical interview.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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