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Open Access Technical advance

Frequency of GP communication addressing the patient's resources and coping strategies in medical interviews: a video-based observational study

Trond A Mjaaland* and Arnstein Finset

Author Affiliations

Department of Behavioural Science in Medicine, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

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BMC Family Practice 2009, 10:49  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-10-49

Published: 1 July 2009



There is increasing focus on patient-centred communicative approaches in medical consultations, but few studies have shown the extent to which patients' positive coping strategies and psychological assets are addressed by general practitioners (GPs) on a regular day at the office. This study measures the frequency of GPs' use of questions and comments addressing their patients' coping strategies or resources.


Twenty-four GPs were video-recorded in 145 consultations. The consultations were coded using a modified version of the Roter Interaction Analysis System. In this study, we also developed four additional coding categories based on cognitive therapy and solution-focused therapy: attribution, resources, coping, and solution-focused techniques.

The reliability between coders was established, a factor analysis was applied to test the relationship between the communication categories, and a tentative validating exercise was performed by reversed coding.


Cohen's kappa was 0.52 between coders. Only 2% of the utterances could be categorized as resource or coping oriented. Six GPs contributed 59% of these utterances. The factor analysis identified two factors, one task oriented and one patient oriented.


The frequency of communication about coping and resources was very low. Communication skills training for GPs in this field is required. Further validating studies of this kind of measurement tool are warranted.