Background: We present an educational model that describes physician skills for addressing psychosocial concerns of patients, ranging from basic medical questions to in-depth psychotherapy. This model improves upon previously published models by integrating into one hierarchy levels of physician involvement with individual patients and levels of involvement with families.
Methods: Ten faculty family physicians were videotaped during 200 office visits. Interviews were categorized according to the model, with a 79% interrater agreement.
Results: Most visits involved the lower three levels of physician involvement (41%, level 1; 35.5%, level 2; and 23%, level 3). Discussion of family context occurred in a majority (58.5%) of visits, primarily when another family member was in the room and during preventive care visits. Higher levels were associated with longer visits--about 3 minutes more for each additional level.
Conclusions: This investigation suggests that the levels of physician involvement model can be reliably measured. This model may be a useful tool for education and research, particularly the study of physician interview skills appropriate to family medicine.