This article analyzes instances of misunderstanding between doctor, patient and accompanying person during the history taking of ‘first time’ oncology visits. History taking is a fundamental activity in these visits since it targets useful information for the oncologist to determine the patients’ current and general health status and then arrange the treatment plan most suitable for their cancer. The authors show how this activity involves all participants in the interaction: the oncologist, the patients and their care-givers. The management of this activity is not plain and straightforward: it requires complex negotiations between participants in order for them to find a shared understanding of what information is relevant to the medical history, and what is the purpose of the activity in progress. The analyses help to identify, on one hand, the characteristics of the diseases that patients do not recognize as relevant, and on the other hand, the investigative strategies and communication skills that the doctor uses to track the information. These strategies are discussed as resources to socialize patients to effectively contribute to the present visit and the future ones.
Keywords: Doctor-patient interaction, patient education, medical history taking, qualitative research, video recording, oncology