AIM: to review question types and question formation.

INTRODUCTION: Questions are an important component of a doctor's communication toolbox. Accurate formation of questions promotes effective interaction and comprehension.

Question words indicate the kind of information that is sought in a question.

how + ?
how much/many
how often/many times
how long
how old
how hot
how fast
what + ?
what type/sort/kind
what time
what colour
which + ?
which one
which doctor

The meaning of a question can change depending on the verb form that is used. Inaccurate use of verb forms can lead to ambiguous or confusing exchanges. Examples of three verb forms:

Do you usually take any medication for your asthma?PRESENT SIMPLE = in general; do + infinitive
Have you tried paracetamol as an alternative?PRESENT PERFECT SIMPLE = at any time in the past up till now; have + past participle
Were you taking any other prescription drugs at the same time?PAST CONTINUOUS = around a particular time in the past; was/were + -ing form

Open and closed questions are a common feature of medical consultations. Open questions usually start with a 'question word' (e.g. what, when) and encourage an information-rich response. Closed questions are more specific; they can usually be answered with yes or no.

How long have you lived with your current partner?
– Oh, about a year or so.

Who's at home with you?
– Well, I live with my mum and two brothers but I don't see them much.
Are you still feeling tired? – Yes, absolutely exhausted.

Have you ever smoked? – No, not really.

INSTRUCTIONS: Drag and drop the appropriate ending from the box below to match the question beginning.

How are ...
What type of intercourse ...
Did you ...
How long have ...
Are you ...
When was ...
Have you had intercourse with ...
Have you ever ...
Has ...

Please answer every question before continuing.

FOLLOW-UP: For each of these prompts, make at least four relevant questions to ask a patient.

  1. Previous illnesses and admissions to hospital
  2. Current exercise
  3. Family history of mental illness
  4. Daily food intake