June 20, 1986

Interviewing and Patient Care

Author Affiliations

Kansas City (Mo) Veterans Administration Medical Center


by Allen J. Enelow and Scott N. Swisher, ed 3; 231 pp, $24.95, paper $11.95, New York, Oxford University Press Inc, 1986.

JAMA. 1986;255(23):3312-3313. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370230118049

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Interviewing has always been considered an essential part of the physician's art. The ability of some doctors to elicit previously unobtainable information from patients has been greatly admired. However, this ability has often been approached as if it were an inborn trait dependent more on the personality of the physician than his training. Hence, most medical texts provide extensive lists of items to be covered in an interview but little guidance on how to obtain this information. Books that do discuss interview methods frequently come from the psychological or psychiatric fields and are so specialized or laden with jargon that they are of little value to most physicians.

This book, written for students of the health professions, but aimed mainly at medical students, begins from the premise that interviewing is a skill and, like any skill, can be mastered through acquisition of a body of knowledge and continuous practice. The