To identify the questions patients most commonly ask their psychiatrist. For 200 consecutive psychiatric patient consultations, answers to the invitation, “Do you have any questions you wish to ask me?” were recorded along with diagnosis. The most frequently asked questions were noted and compared across patient groups.
Most patients wanted to know when medication could be reduced or stopped. Some patients asked for more medication. Concerns about side-effects and fitness to drive were also common. A high proportion of patients (21–57%) asked no questions.
Psychiatrists must be prepared to answer questions effectively on the necessity and benefits of long term medication. These may be useful facts to include in a patient information leaflet. Side-effects of medication should also be taken seriously. Many patients lead impoverished social lives, with low levels of interpersonal interaction. This may be a barrier to participation in the clinical interview, and diminish the likelihood of posing questions.
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