Doctors' consultations with children and their parents: a model of competencies, outcomes and confounding influences

Med Educ. 2005 Aug;39(8):807-19. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2929.2005.02231.x.


Context: The clinical consultation is an important aspect of the doctor's role. However, there is a particular shortage of methods for assessing its quality, and its complexity makes it a considerable assessment challenge.

Research question: What are the key components of consultations involving children?

Methods: (1) A content analysis of relevant published and unpublished literature. (2) A nominal group consensus exercise with experienced paediatricians.

Results: The content analysis and consensus exercise suggested similar lists of doctor's characteristics, tasks and outcomes as being important components of the consultation. Doctor's characteristics include: clinical judgement, clinical knowledge, physical examination, information gathering, clinical questioning, information giving, patient-centredness, parent-centredness, interpersonal skills, and consultation management. Important tasks include: organisation and efficiency, rapport, information gathering, getting the family perspective, examination and procedures, evaluation, medically appropriate plans, family appropriate plans, enhancing understanding and recall, achieving consensus, sharing responsibility, family knows how to get further help and liaison with other relevant health-care professionals. Important outcomes include: family satisfaction, family perceptions, compliance, health, health-related problems and doctor's satisfaction. The studies reviewed in the literature also provided a catalogue of factors that have been shown to influence the doctor-patient interaction that could potentially confound the assessment of a doctor's performance. These include the doctor's: age, gender, training, speciality, income, social class and politics; the patient's: age, gender, health, prognosis, social class, education, health beliefs and preferences about control and risk. The length of the acquaintance between doctor and patient, and the workload and case-mix in the clinic also affect the interaction. In several studies it is clear that particular combinations of doctor-type and patient-type have especially good or bad interactions. CONCLUSIONS AND FURTHER WORK: These components are synthesised in a single model of the doctor-patient interaction to guide the development and evaluation of assessment instruments aimed at consultations involving children.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child*
  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Consensus
  • Humans
  • Parents*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pediatrics / standards*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Professional-Family Relations*
  • Referral and Consultation