Communication Tips – Asking for Clarification During Consultation

Communication tips by Nursing on the Move.

nom-eu-logoAre you a professional or a pre-professional?
Do you use a second or foreign language at work?
Do you have a friend who speaks a foreign language at work or has a cultural background different from colleagues/customers?

During a consultation, you ask questions to gain new information. Next to gaining new information, sometimes additional questions are needed to clarify information that a patient has already provided. This is usually necessary when a patient’s statements are vague or require further elaboration.

When asking to clarify information, echoing or paraphrasing what is unclear, or reflecting feelings, may precede your question. This is the introduction to the clarification phase:

The patient says …
– ‘This uncertainty is driving me crazy.’
You respond …
– ‘What makes you feel uncertain?’

When the patient provides information regarding his medical history, asking questions related to his time frame may be useful. This also holds true when you ask questions to clarify a sequence of events:

The patient says …
– ‘Since I left hospital …’
You respond …
– ‘When exactly did you leave the hospital?’

For more information, tips and examples, click here.


Oxford Medical and ISC Medical also offer communication courses for medical professionals.

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What kind of first impression do you make? A first impression is the most important impression you’ll ever make—and you get only one chance to make it. Business deals can be made or broken, first dates become second dates or not, friendships are created or fail to form; everything hinges on that all-important initial encounter. And yet most of us don’t know how we’re really seen by others. Many of us don’t know how to make a good impression… shop the book.

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by P. Salmon, C. F. Dowrick, A. Ring, G. M. Humphris

Background: Symptomatic investigation and treatment of unexplained physical symptoms is often attributed to patients’ beliefs and demands for physical treatments.

Aim: To test the influential assumption that patients who present symptoms that the general practitioner (GP) considers to be medically unexplained do not generally provide the opportunity for discussion of psychological issues …read more.

Published in GI-Mail 02/2016 & 07/2019 (English & German edition). Sign up for GI-Mail here.  

Tip: More up to date educational events can be found online in the Education Database »medicine & health«.




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