Despite all the recent technical developments in medicine, the consultation remains the indispensable unit of medical practice. Its success depends on how well doctors and patients communicate with each other. The first part of a consultation can be described as an interview and the part second, a discussion.
This report briefly reviews the reasons for failures of communication in both parts of a consultation. It describes teaching methods which may help both students and their teachers to recognise how their communication with patients could be bettered, and makes suggestions for research which is still much needed in this field.
Fletcher C and Freeling P (1989) Talking and listening to patients - A modern approach. Nuffield Trust.