Intended for healthcare professionals


Taking histories—theft by clinicians

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 16 June 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:1421
  1. Susan M Wearne, GP educator (susan.wearne{at}
  1. Centre for Remote Health, Alice Springs, Australia

    Medical education now stresses the importance of partnership between health professionals and patients. The hierarchical model of the doctor-patient relationship is old fashioned and inappropriate.

    So why do we still tell students to “take a history” from patients? Does this phrase undermine our efforts to teach about collaboration? Shouldn't we instead “listen to people's stories”? This would emphasise the importance of meeting the patient in his or her world and context and ensure that the start of the medical consultation does not perpetuate an outmoded and ineffective world view.

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