Results of past research on physician-patient interruption present an inconclusive picture. This study reconceptualizes interruption into cooperative and intrusive categories. Thirty physician-patient interviews, 13 male/male and 17 male/female, were audiotaped and microanalyzed. It was found that physicians did not interrupt patients more or vice versa. Rather, physicians and patients interrupted differently, the former more intrusively and the latter, more cooperatively. Furthermore, physicians did not dominate speaking turns nor speak more words than patients, as previously believed. We argue that their difference may not be measured by the number of words or speaking turns because it is embedded in their respective communication style. It was also found that female patients exhibited eleven times as much cooperative interruptions as did male patients. When physicians interrupted patients, they were unsuccessful only 6% of the time. When patients interrupted physicians, they were unsuccessful 32% of the time. The results of this study point out the necessity to reconceptualize interruptions in physician-patient interviews.
© Walter de Gruyter