An Overview of the Classification of Doctors’ Questioning in Doctor-Patient Conversations



Questioning is the fundamental part in doctor-patient conversations. For accurate diagnosis and treatment, doctors usually seek information by questioning. The research of questioning is, therefore, essential to research into doctor-patient communication. It not only enhances the understanding of doctors’ information seeking, but improves patients’ ability of information provision. As to the research on questioning, knowing well of classification of questioning is the first step to comprehensively understand doctor-patient communication per se. Scholars generally study the classification of doctors’ questioning from four perspectives. a) In terms of conversational process, there are mainly social history taking question, medical question, and psychological question; b) In terms of linguistic markers, there are wh- question, inverted auxiliary question and tag question; c) In terms of contents, there are open question and closed question; d) In terms of functions, information function and speech function are considered. Forms of each type of doctors’ questioning vary with different perspectives, but there are no “good” questioning and “bad” questioning. All kinds of questioning are not isolated but related, even overlapping. Doctors’ choice for different kinds of questioning depends on their diverse requirements.


Questioning; Doctor-patient conversation; Classification; Type

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