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The general practice consultation is one of the most challenging encounters in medicine. It demands of the doctor not only a high degree of technical knowledge and skill, but also considerable interpersonal competence and self-knowledge. Many books have been written about the consultation, but most are informed by a limited range of theoretical perspectives. The aim of this book is to help the reader gain a deeper understanding of the encounter between patient and doctor by examining it from a number of different points of view. Topics that are addressed include: * information sharing and decision making in the consultation * theories of the patient-doctor relationship * the social context of illness The research evidence is described, and practical implications for patient care are explored. Verbal and non-verbal communication, the care of patients with chronic illness, and management of emotional and psychosocial problems are discussed in detail. Understanding the Consultation will be of particular interest to trainee general practitioners, but should also be of interest to established general practitioners and senior medical students.