Objective: To determine the association between the format of physicians' opening questions that solicit patients' presenting concerns and patients' post-visit evaluations of (i.e., satisfaction with) the affective-relational dimension of physicians' communication.
Methods: Videotape and questionnaire data were collected from visits between 28 primary-care physicians and 142 adult patients with acute problems. Factor analysis resulted in three dependent variables derived from the 9-item Socioemotional Behavior subscale of the Medical Interview Satisfaction Scale.
Results: Question format was significantly, positively associated with patients' evaluations of physicians' listening (p=.028) and positive affective-relational communication (p=.046).
Conclusion: Patients desire opportunities to present concerns in their own time and terms regardless of how extensively they act on this opportunity.
Practice implications: Visits should be opened with general inquiries (e.g., What can I do for you today?) versus closed-ended requests for confirmation (e.g., Sore throat, huh?).