How to gather information from talkative patients in a respectful and efficient manner: a qualitative study of GPs' communication strategies

E. Giroldi*, W. Veldhuijzen, A. Dijkman, M. Rozestraten, J. Muris, C. van der Vleuten, T. van der Weijden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Web of Science)


Background. Gathering information from talkative patients presents a challenge to clinicians. Empirical evidence on how to effectively deal with this challenge is scant.

Objective. This study explores communication strategies and their underlying mechanisms that GPs consider effective when gathering information from talkative patients in order to inform the development of best practices.

Methods. We conducted a qualitative study with experienced GPs. We held individual stimulated-recall interviews (SRIs) with six GPs using their videotaped consultations as a stimulus. The transcripts that ensued were triangulated with data from three focus-group discussions (FGs). We performed a thematic network analysis during an iterative process of data collection and analysis.

Results. To deal with talkative patients during consultations, GPs first try to pinpoint the cause of patients' talkativeness before deciding on the approach to take. Moreover, they resort to the familiar communication strategies, however, in doing so adopt take a more directive attitude. To prevent such attitude from damaging the relationship, GPs take a stepped approach in which they try not to be overly directive, make the patient co-responsible for efficient time management and make use of empathic interrupting.

Conclusions. In the absence of evidence, this description of GPs' communication strategies can guide clinicians, residents and students in gathering information from talkative patients in an efficient, yet empathic and respectful manner. When developing best practices, heed should be paid to the causes of patients' talkativeness and the tension between taking a directive approach and building a doctor-patient relationship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-106
Number of pages7
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • Doctor-patient communication
  • family medicine
  • medical education
  • qualitative research
  • talkativeness

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