6.4 The Interview

Learning Objectives

  • Distinguish between primary and secondary sources of data collection.
  • Distinguish between subjective and objective data.
  • Identify examples of subjective and objective methods of data collection.

The client interview is essential to client care and involves several sources. It involves communicating with the client, considered the primary source, to collect subjective data (i.e., information that the client shares with you or the client’s family or friends. Including statements, feelings and experiences). The client interview may also collect secondary data from family, friends, care partnersand other healthcare providers. It is part of your assessment in which you learn about the client and combine these collected data with objective data (factual information collected through observation, measurement, and diagnostic procedures).

As a health professional, you must ensure that professional standards of practice inform the client interview because therapeutic communication and relationships are the foundation of an effective client interview. To meet this standard, you must think carefully about communicating during the client interview.

The importance of effective communication cannot be overstated. It is a foundational pillar of an effective interview. The interview often serves as the impetus for therapeutic action. For example, it would be challenging to interpret what is wrong or ailing the client without their disclosure. The care provided by health professionals is contingent on the accuracy of the data they collect, so you must develop relational skills to accurately and holistically gather valuable data from clients. If data are lacking, health professionals are limited in providing effective care. For example, clients may not share certain problems if they are unsure whether you care or are interested. Also, clients may be afraid to reveal relevant health information because they fear judgment or ridicule, which could impede your ability to address their health issues.

The interview’s purpose influences the nature of the interview. For example, an interview may be short, focused, or more detailed and comprehensive, depending on the client’s health needs and reason for seeking care. The interview purpose is often influenced by where you work, such as at a clinic or acute or primary care setting. No matter the purpose, there are common principles and strategies to incorporate when conducting the interview, as detailed in the upcoming sections.

Activity: Check Your Understanding

Points of Consideration

Care partners

The term care partners refer to family, friends, or paid companions who are involved in helping to care for the client. They may be called informal caregivers or family caregivers, but care partners is a more inclusive term that acknowledges their role’s energy, work, and importance.

Key Takeaways

  • The client interview is an important component of client care and involves several sources.
  • The client is considered the primary source of data.
  • Family, friends, care partners, or healthcare team members are secondary data sources.
  • Data collected from the client is considered subjective data.
  • Data collected through observation, examination, or procedures are considered objective data.


Attribution Statement

Content adapted, with editorial changes, from:​

Lapum, J., St.-Amant, O., Hughes, M., & Garmaise-Yee, J. (Eds.)(2020). Introduction to communication in nursing. Toronto Metropolitan University Pressbooks. https://pressbooks.library.ryerson.ca/communicationnursing/

Lapum, J., St.-Amant, O., Hughes, M., Petrie, P., Morrell, S., & Mistry, S. (n.d.). The complete subjective health assessment. eCampus Ontario. https://ecampusontario.pressbooks.pub/healthassessment/

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Professional Communication Skills for Health Studies Copyright © 2023 by Chute, A., Johnston, S., & Pawliuk, B. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book