Multiple realities in a study of medical consultations

Qual Health Res. 2002 Oct;12(8):1093-111. doi: 10.1177/104973202129120467.


A study of doctor-patient communication offers convincing arguments for using multiple methods of data collection incorporating both meanings and practices. Multiple realities emerged clearly that would have remained invisible had only one data source been used. Two case studies illustrate how four factors interact to produce different versions of reality: setting, participants, time, and forms of data recording. The author discusses the apparent markedly different realities of doctors and patients, and the researcher's role in synthesizing these multiple accounts. Only by using multiple methods can attention be paid to the central tensions, the gaps and white spaces, and the discrepancies and misunderstandings that are so important in understanding human interaction. However, this approach is labor- and time-intensive, and requires skilled, experienced researchers.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Communication*
  • Drug Information Services
  • Drug Prescriptions*
  • England
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys / methods*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Office Visits
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians, Family / psychology*
  • Power, Psychological
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Research