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May 26, 2003

Two Collaborating Artists Produce a Work of ArtThe Medical Interview

Arch Intern Med. 2003;163(10):1131-1132. doi:10.1001/archinte.163.10.1131

AN IMPLICATION of the phrase "taking a history" is that the doctor is performing an act of extraction similar to a dentist's removing a tooth. Indeed, the process is often as brutal as it sounds, an assault of closed-ended questions punctuated briefly by faint yes or no answers from the patient, who becomes alienated, uncooperative, and dissatisfied as the process continues.15 In this issue of the ARCHIVES, Haidet and Paterniti6 suggest a better structure and metaphor for the medical interview, that of "building a history." While "taking a history" implies an aggressor acting on a victim, a taker, and a taken-from, "building" one allows for a joint effort between the doctor and the patient.

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