The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness, dynamics, and consequences of a health education intervention designed to increase patient question asking during the patient's medical visit. Data were collected at a Baltimore family and community health center which provides outpatient services to a low income, predominantly black and female population. The majority of the study participants were, in addition, elderly and chronically ill. A total of 294 patients and 3 providers took part in the study. The study design included random assignment of patients to experimental and placebo groups with two non-equivalent (non-randomized) control groups. Findings included: (1) The experimental group patients asked more direct questions and fewer indirect questions than did placebo group patients. (2) The experimental group patient-provider interaction was characterized by negative affect, anxiety, and anger, while the placebo group patient-provider interaction was characterized as mutually sympathetic. (3) The experimental group patients were less satisfied with care received in the clinic on the day of their visit than were placebo patients. (4) The experimental group patients demonstrated higher appointment-keeping ratios (an average number of appointments kept divided by an average number of appointments made) during a four-month prospective monitoring period.