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Re-conceptualizing interruptions in physician-patient interview: Co-operative and intrusive
Unformatted Document Text:  Interruption Patterns 3 Re-conceptualizing interruptions in physician-patient interview: Co-operative and intrusive “Do you always hear your patients?” “I don’t. I confess! I am guilty! I often cut the patient short.” ---Dr. Manuel Rowen (1977, p. 82) When listening to a patient describing his or her symptoms, a physician may interrupt in order to get more details or “redirect the focus of the interview” (Marvel, Epstein, Flowers, & Beckman, 1999; Beckman and Frankel, 1984). On the other hand, when the physician reveals his or her diagnosis or treatment plan, the patient may need to interrupt in order to provide more details or express a concern (Beckman and Frankel, 1984; Stewart, Brown, Levenstein, McCracken, & McWhinney, 1986; Kaplan, Gandek, Greenfield, Rogers, & Ware, 1995). The goal of the research reported here was to understand how physicians and patients interrupt each other, that is, do they interrupt cooperatively or intrusively, or both? If so, how frequently? Does the gender of the patient affect the way they interrupt and are interrupted? We have pursued these questions through microanalysis of audio-taped physician-patient interviews . The Nature of Interruption So far, there are two distinct views among conversation interruption researchers. One holds that interruption is a deep intrusion of the rights of the current speaker, as well as a severe disruption of the flow of the on-going conversation (Sacks, Schegloff, & Jefferson, 1974). This view equates interruption with power, the more powerful party interrupting the less powerful interlocutor (e.g., Ferguson, 1977; Kollock, Blumstein, & Schwartz, 1985; Hawkins, 1991; Mishler & Waxler, 1968; Robinson & Reis, 1989; Zimmerman & West, 1975).

Authors: Li, Han., Krysko, Michael., Desroches, Naghmeh. and Deagle, George.
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Interruption Patterns
3
Re-conceptualizing interruptions in physician-patient interview: Co-operative and intrusive
“Do you always hear your patients?”
“I don’t. I confess! I am guilty! I often cut the patient short.”
---Dr. Manuel Rowen (1977, p. 82)
When listening to a patient describing his or her symptoms, a physician may interrupt in
order to get more details or “redirect the focus of the interview” (Marvel, Epstein, Flowers, &
Beckman, 1999; Beckman and Frankel, 1984). On the other hand, when the physician reveals his
or her diagnosis or treatment plan, the patient may need to interrupt in order to provide more
details or express a concern (Beckman and Frankel, 1984; Stewart, Brown, Levenstein,
McCracken, & McWhinney, 1986; Kaplan, Gandek, Greenfield, Rogers, & Ware, 1995). The
goal of the research reported here was to understand how physicians and patients interrupt each
other, that is, do they interrupt cooperatively or intrusively, or both? If so, how frequently? Does
the gender of the patient affect the way they interrupt and are interrupted? We have pursued
these questions through microanalysis of audio-taped physician-patient interviews
.
The Nature of Interruption
So far, there are two distinct views among conversation interruption researchers.
One holds that interruption is a deep intrusion of the rights of the current speaker, as well
as a severe disruption of the flow of the on-going conversation (Sacks, Schegloff, &
Jefferson, 1974). This view equates interruption with power, the more powerful party
interrupting the less powerful interlocutor (e.g., Ferguson, 1977; Kollock, Blumstein, &
Schwartz, 1985; Hawkins, 1991; Mishler & Waxler, 1968; Robinson & Reis, 1989;
Zimmerman & West, 1975).


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