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A Piece of My Mind
March 14, 2017

Questioning a Taboo: Physicians’ Interruptions During Interactions With Patients

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Family Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle; and Editor, Families, Systems and Health: The Journal of Collaborative Family Healthcare
 

Copyright 2017 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved.

JAMA. 2017;317(10):1021-1022. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.16068

A seminal event occurred in 1984. Howard Beckman, MD, and Richard Frankel, PhD, published a study1 reporting that physicians interrupt patients, on average, after 18 seconds during an encounter. According to Google Scholar,2 this study has been referenced 1115 times in academic journals and books, 50 times alone in 2016. The mainstream press picked up on this study with titles such as “Study Finds Doctors Aren’t Good Listeners” or “Prescription for Doctors: Listen More.”

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