Patient information-seeking behaviors when communicating with doctors

Med Care. 1990 Jan;28(1):19-28. doi: 10.1097/00005650-199001000-00004.


In order to better understand patient differences in question asking and other information-seeking behaviors when communicating with doctors, 106 rehabilitation medicine patients were studied. Sociodemographic data, attitude measures, interview data and tape recordings of doctor-patient encounters revealed that patients desired information about a wide range of medical topics but did not engage in many information-seeking behaviors when communicating with doctors. While desiring information, patients regarded doctors as the appropriate persons to make medical decisions. Regression analyses indicated that patient information-seeking behaviors were more directly associated with situational variables (length of interaction, diagnosis, reason for visit) than with patient attitudes or sociodemographic characteristics. Patient attitudes influenced patient information-seeking behaviors only for patients with interactions lasting at least 19 minutes, indicating that a longer interaction may be necessary for patient attitudes regarding desire for information and participation in medical decisions to manifest themselves in information-seeking communication behavior.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health
  • Communication*
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Midwestern United States
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Patient Participation
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Regression Analysis