Shifts in patients’ question-asking behaviour between 2007 and 2016

Authors Maartje C. Meijers, Amy Potappel, Corelien Kloek, Tim Olde Hartman, Peter Spreeuwenberg, Sandra van Dulmen, Janneke Noordman
Published in Patient Education and Counseling
Publication date 2020
Research groups Innovation of Movement Care
Type Article


Objective: To gain insight into patient participation in general practice by examining if and how patients' question-asking behaviour has changed over the years (2007-2016). Methods: A random set of real-life video-recorded consultations collected in 2015-2016 (n = 437) was observed and compared with that of a former study in 2007-2008 (n = 533). Patients' question-asking behaviour was coded using an adapted RIAS protocol containing six categories: medical condition/therapeutic regimen; psychosocial; social context; lifestyle; ask for opinion doctor; practical. GPs and patients completed questionnaires about their background characteristics. Data were analysed using multi-level analysis. Results: Patients asked fewer questions in 2016 than in 2007. The type of question-asking behaviour changed significantly: in particular medical questions decreased while practical questions increased. Less educated patients asked significantly more practical questions than higher educated patients. Conclusion: Contrary to our expectations, patients' question-asking has decreased in 2016 compared to 2007, while the average consultation length has increased. The type of questions shifted from medical to practical, especially in less educated patients. It seems that GPs' professional role has expanded over time, since patients nowadays ask their GP more non-medical questions. Practice implications: GPs probably could continue facilitating patient involvement by more frequently using partnership-building and supportive communication.

On this publication contributed

  • Corelien Kloek | Researcher | Research group Innovation of Movement Care
    Corelien Kloek
    • Researcher
    • Research group: Innovation of Movement Care

Language English
Published in Patient Education and Counseling
Year and volume 103 6
Key words communication, general practice, observational study, patient participation, patient question-asking
Digital Object Identifier 10.1016/j.pec.2020.01.016
Page range 1168-1175

Innovation of Movement Care