Communication Tips – Directive Skills Part 3: Closed Questions

Communication tips by Nursing on the Move.

nom-eu-logoAre you a professional or a pre-professional in the medical sector?

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?

Asking the right questions and gaining accurate information from a patient are powerful tools during consultations. Using different question types may facilitate the consultation and affect the type and amount of information the patient will provide. There are three main question types: open, directed and closed questions.

It is important to know what kind of question to ask first, and what to ask last. A good consultation follows a particular technique called the open-to-close cone of questioning. A sound general strategy for gathering information from patients is to start with open-ended questions and move towards more focused and closed-ended questions.

Closed questions generally follow directed questions. They are focused and are used to elicit specific pieces of information which are considered important for the consultation. They often arise from information the patient has already given and zoom in on specific details or a particular problem. Responses to closed questions mainly will give you the information needed to determine the cause or nature of a problem.


Example of a closed question:

– ‘Is it a sharp pain?’

The answer will lead you to understand what kind of pain the patient is experiencing.


For more information, tips and examples, go here

(Next month: Directive skills: The language of a good question)Communication-for-Professionals-logo

You can find an overview of all communication tips by Communication for Professionals here.


AACH Winter Course
07. – 12. February 2016, Scottsdale, AZ, USA
Find more information here.


Communication Skills for Foreign and Mobile Medical ProfessionalsCommunication Skills for Foreign and Mobile Medical Professionals

van de Poel, K., Vanagt, E., Schrimpf, U., Gasiorek, J.

„Around the world, the number of internationally mobile medical professionals is steadily increasing, posing potential difficulties for the good communication with patients and colleagues that is vital to satisfactory outcomes and personal professional success.  Communication Skills for Foreign and Mobile Medical Professionals  is an evidence-based communication resource book designed for all medical professionals who work in foreign countries, cultures, and languages. It offers a wealth of insights into doctor-patient communication, structured around the different phases of the consultation…Shop the book.

Cues and Concerns by Patients in Medical Consultations: A Literature Review

by Christa Zimmermann and Lidia Del Piccolo

“One of the crucial challenges of physicians is to be able to grasp and respond to the patients’ expressions of emotions, worries, needs and other topics of perceived and immediate importance for the patient. Such utterances from patients may relate to uncertainties or anxiety about their medical conditions and treatment options but also may regard life events or social problems in general and often indicate emotional distress of clinical significance…” Read this article


Tip: More up to date educational events dealing with communication for doctors and health professionals can be found online in the Education Database »medicine & health«.




    Comments are closed.