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Re-conceptualizing interruptions in physician-patient interview: Co-operative and intrusive
Unformatted Document Text:  Interruption Patterns 20 the process and/or content of the on-going conversation. The interruption patterns found in our study support results from previous research. O’Hair (1989) evidenced that physicians are in control over the conversation most of the time, and patients also attempt, sometimes successfully, to gain a hold in the interaction. Von Friederichs-Fitzwater, Callahan, Flynn and Williams (1991) reported that physicians change topics frequently when patients are talking and physicians ask most of the questions. Arntson et al. (1978) found that physicians ask twice as many questions and give twice as many commands as patients. Physicians also discourage patients from asking questions (e.g., Beckman, Kaplan, & Frankel, 1989; Waitzkin, 1985; 1990; Weiss, 1986) and talking (Arntson et al., 1978). Furthermore, physicians don’t respond to patients’ initiated topics (Coulthard & Ashby, 1975, Li & Browne, 2000) and they interrupt patients when they think that the information being offered is not wanted (Weijts, 1994). Patients, on the other hand, seldom challenge the physician’s opinion because they want to be polite and agreeable (Aronsson & Satterlund-Larsson, 1987). Patient Gender and Interruption Patterns We found that physicians and patients spoke similar number of words, which is different from Roter, Hall, and Katz (1988), who reported that physicians contribute 60% and patients, 40% of the interview. From our sample, an average Canadian medical interview lasts about 7 minutes for a male physician and a male patient, and approximately 9 minutes for a male physician and a female patient. According to Roter et al. (1988), this duration is shorter than American medical interviews of 16 minutes and longer than British medical interviews of 5-6 minutes. In our sample, the male physician/female patient group talked more than the male physician/male patient group, both in duration and number of words. We found that female patients engaged eleven times as much as male patients in co-

Authors: Li, Han., Krysko, Michael., Desroches, Naghmeh. and Deagle, George.
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Interruption Patterns
20
the process and/or content of the on-going conversation.
The interruption patterns found in our study support results from previous research.
O’Hair (1989) evidenced that physicians are in control over the conversation most of the time,
and patients also attempt, sometimes successfully, to gain a hold in the interaction. Von
Friederichs-Fitzwater, Callahan, Flynn and Williams (1991) reported that physicians change
topics frequently when patients are talking and physicians ask most of the questions. Arntson et
al. (1978) found that physicians ask twice as many questions and give twice as many commands
as patients. Physicians also discourage patients from asking questions (e.g., Beckman, Kaplan, &
Frankel, 1989; Waitzkin, 1985; 1990; Weiss, 1986) and talking (Arntson et al., 1978).
Furthermore, physicians don’t respond to patients’ initiated topics (Coulthard & Ashby, 1975, Li
& Browne, 2000) and they interrupt patients when they think that the information being offered
is not wanted (Weijts, 1994). Patients, on the other hand, seldom challenge the physician’s
opinion because they want to be polite and agreeable (Aronsson & Satterlund-Larsson, 1987).
Patient Gender and Interruption Patterns
We found that physicians and patients spoke similar number of words, which is different
from Roter, Hall, and Katz (1988), who reported that physicians contribute 60% and patients,
40% of the interview. From our sample, an average Canadian medical interview lasts about 7
minutes for a male physician and a male patient, and approximately 9 minutes for a male
physician and a female patient. According to Roter et al. (1988), this duration is shorter than
American medical interviews of 16 minutes and longer than British medical interviews of 5-6
minutes. In our sample, the male physician/female patient group talked more than the male
physician/male patient group, both in duration and number of words.
We found that female patients engaged eleven times as much as male patients in co-


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