Health History Interview Techniques for Nurses

Posted: September 8th, 2022

Patient interviews are the best way to establish a relationship between a nurse and a patient. It is also a great way to set a pace for the rest of the consultation. 

A good patient interview must help the patient feel at ease with the healthcare professional. A nurse must learn the best practices for interviewing patients. It is the first point of contact between a patient and their health caregiver. 

When conducting a health history interview on a patient, it is vital to use the proper interview techniques to obtain accurate information. In this article we examine two health history interview techniques for nurses and nursing students.

Health History Interview Techniques

There are two health history interview techniques for clinicians.

  • Clinician centered approach
  • Integrated interview approach

Clinician-centered health history Interview techniques

The clinician-centered health history interview technique focuses more on interrogating the patient about what they are feeling. The method generates accurate findings more than lab tests and physical exams.

The clinical-centered approach focuses on the biomedical aspects. It overlooks the other factors like psychological and social factors that affect a patient.

A clinician-centered technique is still an effective inpatient diagnosis process. It is noteworthy that the method yields no results for biopsychosocial issues with a patient. Healthcare providers realized the gap and worked through it. 

Integrated Medical Interview Technique

The integrated method focuses on both the clinician and the patient. The patient feels welcomed and valued, and they have a safe space to share more than asked in the interview. Also, they get to answer necessary questions from the interview.

Doctors can read into the patient’s anxieties fears and past concerns through the chat. The patient and the doctor get satisfaction from the process as they connect through a better communication framework. 

Here are some tips on how to conduct an integrated health history interview:

Establish rapport with the patient.

Build rapport with the patient by greeting them and welcoming them. Start by introducing yourself, shaking hands, and making small talk. Starting a conversation with pleasantries is a fast way to extend friendliness.

Starting a medical interview with greetings increases patient comfort and allows them to ease into the interview process. It is also prudent when interviewing someone to avoid jumping into the business of the day.

Put the patient at ease

You need to earn your patient’s trust. Gain the patient’s trust so they can open up about their medical history and let you in on their health history. Talking about chronic illnesses and past medical history may not come up without trust. Effective communication happens when both parties can take part without judgment. Also, the patient will see the benefit of the interview process.

Ask open-ended questions and encourage the patient to elaborate on their answers.

Ask your patients questions like how they feel and their experiences. Posing questions is the only way to understand a patient. Follow up the questions by breaking down the information. Patients may forget some symptoms and present only the most troubling ones. Missing out even on a single symptom can make a lot of difference in the treatment process. Patients require support to get the relevant information they need. Asking questions can help put their thoughts and concerns into a better perspective.

Be an active listener

A nurse must be an active listener and use nonverbal cues such as eye contact and head nods to show that you are interested in what the patient is saying. Eye contact ensures that you gain the patient’s attention and win their trust.

Listening also means taking time to understand the details. Asking questions and responding to questions from the patient are also important. Listening enhances communication as it fosters understanding and builds trust.

Take notes during the interview

Write a few things down from time to time. Do not forget to stop and observe other non-verbal cues that enhance the conversation. It helps show your patient that you care beyond what they say. 

Noting down things gives you references when you need them. Sometimes a patient may present many symptoms throwing you off the path to a proper diagnosis. 

Use adaptive questioning

Guide your patient in the interview by asking the questions you need to be answered. You can slowly lead them to tell a sequential story without interrupting their flow of thought. A nursing health assessment is easy when you lead the patient to give more information with simple broken-down questions. Short simple answers can also help the patient remember more.

Empathy and validation

Show the patient that you understand their woes. Your patient must learn to trust you based on your ability to relate to them. It is vital to let the patient know their concerns are valid. Once you understand and empathize with them, they can open up more.

6. Thank the patient for their time and let them know you are available if they have further questions. Thank your patient for agreeing to sit down and give your attention and time.

Final Thoughts on Health History Interview Techniques

Health history Interview techniques are crucial for nurses to develop a relationship with the patient and obtain accurate information. By following these tips, you will conduct a successful health history interview.

Patient communication is a basic skill for healthcare practitioners. Most medical professionals will interview over 200,000 patients by the end of their careers. Learning how to get information from the patient is vital in the treatment process.

The tips above are essential when learning a patient’s story, risk factors, family history, and past medical history. Implementing them can help better patient outcomes. Otherwise, you get more data than with a mere physical exam.

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