Observation Guide: Selected glossary

Addressing disagreements
Acknowledging differences in opinion, understanding and/or beliefs in a manner that is non-confrontational

Appropriate use of silence

  • Allowing the patient to speak or continue to tell their story without interruption
  • Allowing the patient to take a moment when overwhelmed with emotion or when they need to organize their thoughts

Appropriate use of interruptions

  • Respectfully interrupting a talkative or unfocused patient to improve the flow of the interview
  • Manage the conversation in order to gather relevant information

Asking permission
Requesting the patient’s right or approval to do something in particular

Collecting insufficient or inaccurate data which may result in poor decisions or inaccurate diagnosis

Body language
Non-verbal expressions, gestures or postures that convey meaning

Using transitional statements to connect one part of an interview to the next part

Checking in
Taking the time to acknowledge and check in with the patient to confirm their experience, reaction and/or understanding throughout the interview

Verifying facts, information or feelings that have been expressed

Common ground
Establishing the patient’s agenda, explaining your agenda to the patient and finding areas of overlap between the two

Actively integrates patient’s medical information with pertinent information about home/work/social situation in a way that demonstrates understanding to the patient and allows optimal management of the case

Ability to understand how someone feels because you can imagine what it’s like to be them

Providing clarification on the matter

Using body language, nonverbal techniques (e.g., nodding) and encouraging sounds or phrases

Using language that may not be understood by the patient

Applying your own values to someone else

Assuring a patient that they have reason to be concerned

Making a connection for patients

Trying to reach an agreement between the physician and the patient through a focussed discussion

Putting the patient’s experience into perspective; letting the patient know that his or her experience may be shared by others and/or is understandable under the circumstances

Being receptive to different ideas or perspectives

Speed or rate at which the patient encounter is conducted

Expressing your understanding of the patient’s meaning in your own words while using a vocabulary suitable for the patient

Determining the most important thing to address and explaining to the patient why those things are the most important, from the physician’s perspective

Psychosocial information
Contextual information including family, relationships, finances, occupation, religion, culture, customs, habits, fears, ideas, impact on function, and expectations for the visit

Giving more detailed information, elaboration, or expansion on the original statement

Determining a specific pattern of intake such as medications, alcohol, or smoking

Questioning styles

  • Opened-ended questions do not have one specific answer; they allow the patient to convey their story in their own words
  • Closed-ended questions have specific answers and elicit limited pieces of information
  • Leading or directive questions can be used to summarize or verify a topic or clarify information
  • Multiple or stacked questions are two or more questions that are asked at the same time without waiting for a response in between each question

Saying the same thing as the patient but using slightly different words in order to emphasize a point or check in with the patient

Using the patient’s own words to further the conversation and encourage amplification

Honouring and valuing another person and/or their viewpoint

Recognizing, establishing, or illustrating the worthiness or legitimacy of a patient’s situation

Extracting key elements from the patient’s story and linking them concisely. Can bring an area of discussion to a close. A final contextualizing summary can serve as bridge to a shared plan.