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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Self-Study Modules for Effective TB Interviewing


Active listening – the process of hearing what is said and paying attention to how it is said so that further dialogue can be adjusted to elicit the needed responses.  Active listening utilizes various verbal and nonverbal techniques.

Barrier physical or nonphysical obstacles or hindrances that can slow or stop communication.

Closed-ended questions – require one-word or briefly-phrased responses, such as “yes” or “no.”  Closed-ended questions can move a conversation in a more productive direction if the information that is being sought is not being obtained.

Communication – the exchange of information by symbols, words, signs, or actions.  It is an interactive process, which involves feedback.  Communication revolves around asking questions, listening actively, understanding a patient’s concerns or needs, and demonstrating a caring attitude while helping to solve problems.

Interpreter – an individual who orally conveys the exact communication for another individual who has little or no proficiency in the language in which the interviewer is speaking. Ideally, an interpreter should be professionally trained or certified.

Focused questions – used if the respondent makes a vague statement or one requiring more specific information.  The question may provide limits or boundaries to direct an answer.

Open-ended questions – used to promote dialogue; these questions require more than a one-word answer and usually begin with who, where, what, why, or how.

Nonverbal communication – conveying messages through body language, such as eye contact, facial expression, posture, gestures, and touching.

Paraphrasing –the rewording of a patient’s response in order to verify information and display that the interviewer is effectively listening.

Patient educationthe process of providing information to a patient on his or her medical condition, treatment regimen, or processes in which he or she becomes involved with healthcare staff (e.g., contact investigation).  Information is based on patient’s level of understanding, existing knowledge, and feedback (e.g., body language or questions) he or she provides.

Reflection – an interviewer’s rewording of a patient’s reactions through acknowledging a patient’s feeling(s) and its cause.

Summarizingthe rephrasing of a series of statements that have occurred through a dialogue in order to verify information and demonstrate that the interviewer is listening carefully.

Verbal communication – how something is said conveys meaning in addition to what is actually said. Verbal communication includes sound, words, and language.


Released October 2008
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Division of Tuberculosis Elimination -

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CDC/Division of Tuberculosis Elimination
Communications, Education, and Behavioral Studies Branch
1600 Clifton Rd., NE - Mailstop E-10, Atlanta, GA 30333