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Can Fam Physician. 2010 March; 56(3): e125–e126.
PMCID: PMC2837709

The fifteen minute hour

Therapeutic talk in primary care
Reviewed by Frank Foley, MD

AUTHORS Marian R. Stuart, Joseph A. Lieberman  PUBLISHER Radcliffe Publishing Ltd, 18 Marcham Rd, Abingdon OX14 1AA, United Kingdom  TELEPHONE 44 (0)1235 528820  FAX 44 (0)1235 528830  WEBSITEwww.radcliffe-oxford.comPUBLISHED 2008/196 pp/$34.50 


STRENGTHS Excellent vignettes; short how-to methodology; easy reading style; interesting and practical

WEAKNESSES A little dry at times; could benefit from up-to-date website addresses

AUDIENCE Family physicians, primary care practitioners

A few weeks ago, I had great time fishing for largemouth bass with my friend Peter Bathe. This morning I enjoyed a good hot bath.

The authors of this book encourage family physicians to BATHE their patients as well. The BATHE technique is an excellent screening method for anxiety, stress, and depression. It enables the physician to identify and deal with these issues in 1 to 2 minutes during the patient interview. Both patients and physicians are reported to have enhanced satisfaction as a result.

The original concept of BATHE, which comprises the questions physicians should ask their patients, stands for the following: Background (What is going on your life?); Affect (How do you feel about that?); Trouble (What troubles you the most?); Handling (How are you handling that?); and Empathy (That must be very difficult for you).

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In this updated edition, the authors have added a chapter on positive psychology.

The writing style is easy to read, with short chapters, multiple vignettes, and scientific evidence to support the book’s concepts.

I practise family medicine half the time and cognitive psychotherapy for the other half, and I have recently introduced the BATHE method into my family practice encounters. Patients really enjoy it when I ask about their week (whether good or bad) and their lives. I have discovered things about them I would not otherwise know, and it is more fun for me.

There is an excellent chapter dedicated to special issues— challenging patients, grief, suicide, and teenagers. We are reminded that “you don’t own the problem, the patient does.” This book is a classic in the family physician literature.

Articles from Canadian Family Physician are provided here courtesy of College of Family Physicians of Canada