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Re-conceptualizing interruptions in physician-patient interview: Co-operative and intrusive
Unformatted Document Text:  Interruption Patterns 9 patients seldom expressed disagreement and dissatisfaction in a direct fashion. Instead, they do so in an inaudible and equivocal manner. Buller and Buller (1987) proposed two types of communication styles in physician-patient interaction: controlling and affiliative. Irish and Hall (1995) proposed that physicians tend to interrupt with questions and patients, with statements. The above literature on physician-patient interruption patterns enlightens us in two ways. First, results are inconclusive regarding whether physicians interrupt patients more or vice versa. One possible reason may be the different definitions researchers use in their scoring of interruptions. The definition of interruption used by a number of researchers (e.g, Beaumont & Cheyne, 1998; Jacob, 1974; Mishler & Waxler, 1968; Li, 2001, & West, 1984) is based on the mechanics of turn-taking (see definition in Method section). On the other hand, the definition by Beckman and Frankel (1984) was more a functional approach. For example, an interruption was identified if a question or statement occurred in a transition-relevant place but redirected the agenda of the first speaker. Mechanically this may not qualify for an interruption but functionally it does. Unless there is a unified definition for interruption, findings will probably remain divisive. This is a realistic challenge for future researchers. A possible breakthrough to this puzzle may be a re-conceptualization of interruption. The difference may be more in the manner they interrupt rather than in the frequency of their interruption. By extending previous research, we first mechanically identified interruptions into successful and unsuccessful. Then based on the functions of the interruption in the conversation, we classified them into cooperative and intrusive. We explored whether physicians and patients differed in the types of interruptions.

Authors: Li, Han., Krysko, Michael., Desroches, Naghmeh. and Deagle, George.
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Interruption Patterns
9
patients seldom expressed disagreement and dissatisfaction in a direct fashion. Instead,
they do so in an inaudible and equivocal manner. Buller and Buller (1987) proposed two
types of communication styles in physician-patient interaction: controlling and affiliative.
Irish and Hall (1995) proposed that physicians tend to interrupt with questions and
patients, with statements.
The above literature on physician-patient interruption patterns enlightens us in two
ways. First, results are inconclusive regarding whether physicians interrupt patients more
or vice versa. One possible reason may be the different definitions researchers use in their
scoring of interruptions. The definition of interruption used by a number of researchers
(e.g, Beaumont & Cheyne, 1998; Jacob, 1974; Mishler & Waxler, 1968; Li, 2001, &
West, 1984) is based on the mechanics of turn-taking (see definition in Method section).
On the other hand, the definition by Beckman and Frankel (1984) was more a functional
approach. For example, an interruption was identified if a question or statement occurred
in a transition-relevant place but redirected the agenda of the first speaker. Mechanically
this may not qualify for an interruption but functionally it does.
Unless there is a unified definition for interruption, findings will probably remain
divisive. This is a realistic challenge for future researchers.
A possible breakthrough to this puzzle may be a re-conceptualization of
interruption. The difference may be more in the manner they interrupt rather than in the
frequency of their interruption. By extending previous research, we first mechanically
identified interruptions into successful and unsuccessful. Then based on the functions of
the interruption in the conversation, we classified them into cooperative and intrusive.
We explored whether physicians and patients differed in the types of interruptions.


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