History and Examination: at a Glance

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


The abilities to take an accurate history and perform a physical examination are the most essential skills in becoming a doctor. These skills are difficult to acquire and, above all, require practice. See as many patients as you can and take time to elicit detailed histories, observe carefully for physical signs and generate your own differential diagnoses. Experienced clinicians do not simply ask the same long list of questions of every patient. Instead, they will modify the style of their history taking to elicit the maximum amount of relevant information from each patient. They will also place different emphasis on the importance and reliability of different clinical findings. This book is designed to be used alongside frequent practice of these communication and examination skills with actual patients in order to hone and develop these essential abilities. The purpose of the history and examination is to develop an understanding of the patient's medical problems and to generate a differential diagnosis. Despite the advances in modern diagnostic tests, the clinical history and examination are still crucial to achieving an accurate diagnosis. However, this process also enables the doctor to get to know the patient (and vice versa!) and to understand the medical problems in the context of the patient's personality and social background. The book is deliberately concise, emphasizes the importance of history taking and is restricted to core topics. For a complete understanding of any medical condition, you should look at other textbooks such as Medicine at a Glance and Surgery at a Glance. This book has four parts. The first section introduces students to key history-taking skills, including relationships with patients, family history and functional enquiry. The second section covers history and examination of the systems of the body and includes chapters on recognising the ill patient and how to present a clerking. Section three covers history taking and examination of the common clinical presentations whilst section four focuses on common conditions. It thus covers topics in a variety of different ways and this deliberate repetition of important topics is designed to facilitate effective learning. It is often thought that clinical history and examination is a fixed subject with little change or scientific study. This is incorrect and to emphasize this some subjects have an evidence-based section. These sections do not provide exhaustive coverage of the evidence underpinning aspects of clinical skills but have been included to emphasize the importance of scientific analysis of history and examination. It is hoped that they will act as a stimulus for further reading, study and questioning of the basis of history taking and clinical examination.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford, UK
PublisherBlackwell Publishing
Number of pages212
ISBN (Print)9781405155182 , 1405155183
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Publication series

NameAt a Glance Series


  • History
  • examination
  • diagnosis


Dive into the research topics of 'History and Examination: at a Glance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this