Interviewing when family members are present

Am Fam Physician. 2002 Apr 1;65(7):1351-4.


The presence of family members at an office visit creates unique opportunities and challenges for the physician while interviewing the patient. The physician must address issues of confidentiality, privacy, and agency. Special skills are required to respectfully and efficiently involve family members, while keeping the patient at the center of the visit. A core set of interviewing skills exists for office visit interviews with family members present. These skills include building rapport with each participant by identifying their individual issues and perspectives, and encouraging participation by listening to and addressing the concerns of all persons. Physicians should also avoid triangulation, maintain confidentiality, and verify agreement with the plan. It may be necessary to use more advanced family interviewing skills, including providing direction despite problematic communications; managing conflict; negotiating common ground; and referring members to family therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Confidentiality
  • Family Practice / methods*
  • Humans
  • Medical History Taking*
  • Office Visits*
  • Privacy
  • Professional-Family Relations*