Studies on doctor-patient communication focus predominantly on dyadic interactions between adults; even when the patient is a child, the research focus is usually on doctor-parent interaction. The aim of this review study is to evaluate the state of the art of research into doctor-parent-child communication, and to explore the specific role of the child. Researchers have focused on diverse aspects of the communication in this triad, and, as a result, knowledge gained from studies in this area is poorly integrated. Most of the studies have ignored the implications of a child's presence in medical encounters. Although all studies claim to examine the interaction in the doctor-parent-child triad, most research methodologies used are based on dyads. Our claim. however, is that, because the interactional dynamics of a triad differ fundamentally from those of a dyad, triadic analyses are a prerequisite for a full account of the communication between doctor, parent and child. Suggestions are formulated for an adequate research frame regarding triads.