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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Lisa Willett, MD, BSE (University of Alabama at Birmingham)
Description: This small paperback demonstrates tools and approaches for effective interviewing and communicating with patients and reviews basic elements of a thorough history. The strength and key emphasis is dealing with complex, difficult issues in patient communication.
Purpose: The purpose is to help medical students and physicians-in-training become more effective communicators with patients and to become more comfortable with difficult issues. This allows them to become better physicians and have more positive interactions with their patients. These are worthy objectives that are met by the book.
Audience: The audience is medical students and physicians-in-training (interns and residents). However, it is valuable reading for practicing physicians also.
Features: The book covers basic elements of a complete patient history, followed by multiple subjects that tend to be difficult and complex. For example, individual chapters focus on giving bad news, handling difficult situations, helping the bereaved, and finally how the physician can survive emotionally. The book uses summary boxes to highlight key points and help outline the organization of the chapters, which is useful. Chapter 7 on handling difficult situations is very well done. The only shortcoming is that its orientiation is clearly British, which is culturally a bit different from the U.S., but this has little impact on the overall message. Throughout the book, specific examples and actual dialogue are effectively used to help deliver the information.
Assessment: The book is succinct, informative, and useful. It is easy to read, with pertinent examples of everyday problems physicians face. It is not "preachy" or "touchy-feely." Overall, it is well done and worth the time to read it.