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Re-conceptualizing interruptions in physician-patient interview: Co-operative and intrusive
Unformatted Document Text:  Interruption Patterns 6 being presented is already known to the listener (Kennedy & Camden, 1983). By interrupting, the listener prevents himself or herself from listening to an unwanted piece of information. In the present study, interruptions were first distinguished as successful or unsuccessful (see definitions in Method section). If an interruption was successful, it was then categorized into co-operative or intrusive depending upon the function it performs in the conversation. If the purpose of the interruption was to agree, to assist and to clarify the on-going conversation, it is categorised as co-operative interruption. On the other hand, if the purpose of the interruption was to disagree, to take over the floor, to change the topic or to dismiss the current speaker to avoid redundant information, then it is classified as intrusive interruption. Physician-patient Interruption Patterns Beckman and Frankel (1984) found that physicians interrupted their patients 69% of the time in 74 audio-taped physician-patient interviews. They reported that patients’ descriptions of their concerns were interrupted after the first expressed concern and after a mean time of 18 seconds. More importantly, interrupted concerns were rarely readdressed later on in the medical interview. Only in 1 of 52 interviews did the patient manage to get back to the interrupted agenda. Using the same method, Marvel, Epstein, Flowers and Beckman (1999) coded 264 medical interviews and found that patients’ initial statements of concerns were interrupted in 72% of the interviews and after a mean time of 23.1 seconds. West (1984) observed that physicians interrupted patients more than patients interrupted physicians. Street and Buller (1988) found that there was no difference

Authors: Li, Han., Krysko, Michael., Desroches, Naghmeh. and Deagle, George.
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Interruption Patterns
6
being presented is already known to the listener (Kennedy & Camden, 1983). By
interrupting, the listener prevents himself or herself from listening to an unwanted piece
of information.
In the present study, interruptions were first distinguished as successful or
unsuccessful (see definitions in Method section). If an interruption was successful, it was
then categorized into co-operative or intrusive depending upon the function it performs in
the conversation. If the purpose of the interruption was to agree, to assist and to clarify
the on-going conversation, it is categorised as co-operative interruption. On the other
hand, if the purpose of the interruption was to disagree, to take over the floor, to change
the topic or to dismiss the current speaker to avoid redundant information, then it is
classified as intrusive interruption.
Physician-patient Interruption Patterns
Beckman and Frankel (1984) found that physicians interrupted their patients 69%
of the time in 74 audio-taped physician-patient interviews. They reported that patients’
descriptions of their concerns were interrupted after the first expressed concern and after
a mean time of 18 seconds. More importantly, interrupted concerns were rarely
readdressed later on in the medical interview. Only in 1 of 52 interviews did the patient
manage to get back to the interrupted agenda. Using the same method, Marvel, Epstein,
Flowers and Beckman (1999) coded 264 medical interviews and found that patients’
initial statements of concerns were interrupted in 72% of the interviews and after a mean
time of 23.1 seconds.
West (1984) observed that physicians interrupted patients more than patients
interrupted physicians. Street and Buller (1988) found that there was no difference


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