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April 7, 1993

Using 'Windows of Opportunities' in Brief Interviews to Understand Patients' Concerns

JAMA. 1993;269(13):1667-1668. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500130081036

WE OBSERVED five seasoned clinicians in practice to find out how they interact with patients. We analyzed videotapes made of their interactions with randomly selected, regular office patients. We found five instances during four of the 20 videotaped interviews during which patients discussed their concerns about personal, emotional, and/or family issues in sequences lasting from 1 to 7 minutes. These interactions stood out from the rest of the interviews, so that we termed them "windows of opportunity."

We believe that we have observed an approach taken by some highly experienced practitioners for the purpose of efficiently exploring their patients' psychological and social issues during brief interviews. By describing our observations, we hope to encourage other clinicians to employ this approach.

Method  We did not plan to compare one physician with another, but rather, to discern the ways by which experienced clinicians related to their patients. We employed the iterative process