This study explores the relation between the diagnosis made by the general practitioner (GP) and his or her communicative behavior within a consultation, by means of the analysis of 2095 videotaped consultations of 168 GPs from six countries participating in the Eurocommunication study. The doctors' diagnoses were coded into ICPC chapters and merged into seven clinically relevant diagnostic clusters. The communicative behavior was gauged by means of the Roter interaction analysis system (RIAS). We found the most important differences for consultations about psychosocial problems as compared to all other diagnostic categories. In these consultations, doctors show more affective behavior, are more concerned about having a good relationship with their patients, ask more questions and give less information than in other consultations. The percentages of utterances in the other diagnostic categories were pretty similar. The communicative behavior of doctors reflects a global pattern in every consultation. This pattern is the most stable for affective behavior (social talk, agreement, rapport building and facilitation). Within instrumental behavior (the other categories), the directions and the information the doctor gives are adapted to the problems presented.
Copyright 2004 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.