The clinical history

David B Williams
Med J Aust 2017; 207 (11): . || doi: 10.5694/mja16.00493
Published online: 11 December 2017

Carefully constructed clinical histories underlie successful patient-centred consultations

Osler urged his colleagues and students to: “Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis”. One of my mentors advised that one must “find out what is wrong with the patient and why they came to see you”. This advice enlightened me and bequeathed improved care to my future patients. Quotable maxims such as these crystallise decades of clinical experience and retain their value to this day. However, increasingly, we can and should improve our consultation skills using contemporary quantitative and qualitative research.

  • David B Williams

  • University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW


I thank Rhonda Barringham (general practitioner) and Stephen Ticehurst (psychiatrist) for their helpful comments and suggestions in the preparation of this manuscript.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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