Encouraging patient question-asking: a clinical trial

Patient Educ Couns. 1988 Aug;12(1):37-49. doi: 10.1016/0738-3991(88)90036-5.


Increases in patient participation in medical interactions have been achieved to date using structured waiting-room interviews. In this pilot study, a printed intervention was tested as an inexpensive alternative with potential for wider dissemination. Sixty-seven family medicine patients were assigned randomly to one to two educational conditions just prior to their medical visit: a treatment booklet stressing the importance of recognizing information needs and encouraging patients to ask questions; or a placebo education booklet similar in format but not in content. The patient-physician interactions were audiotaped to determine the number of questions patients asked, and a questionnaire was administered after each encounter to assess patient satisfaction with care. The mean numbers of questions asked in the experimental and control groups were 7.46 and 5.63, respectively; the mean difference of 1.83 questions was statistically non-significant (P greater than 0.05). Question-asking did not correlate with reported satisfaction. Suggestions for modification to this research approach are presented.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Colorado
  • Family Practice*
  • Humans
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Patient Participation*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Random Allocation