Specifically, I'm referring to this question. I lean towards no, it is not on topic, but what do others think?

3 Answers 3


I wouldn’t focus too much on the type of question and more on the type of answer:

Although there have been quite a few well-researched well-motivated questions regarding personal medical advice, we as a Community advocated to close them because we don’t want the type of answer those questions attract.

Are answers like the one I gave for the question regarding patient-doctor interaction answers you want to see on this site, or are they not specific enough to medicine so that it would be reasonable that they stay here?

I personally think that patient-doctor interactions differ from other communication in how the expertise is shifted to one side, and how the patient has a high dependency. I would also like to point out that in the medical education, communication and psychology has gained a lot of value and emphasis in the past few years.


This is a great question about the scope of MedicalSciences.SE. These questions are definitely tricky, and may require more tight moderation of answers than others, but I could see some good arguments for including them in the scope here. As @DoctorWhom says, we do have InterpersonalSkills.SE. For the linked question, if it is about how the OP should deal with his/her sister, I would say it probably belongs on IPS (though IPS may disagree). If it is about how to communicate with a doctor, then I think it may be helpful to keep it here. I believe doctor patient communication is a medical science, though some would prefer to call it an art. There is a literature, and I did try to teach it as a science when I taught a clinical skills course. This is of course, a double edged sword. If patient-doctor communication is a medical science, one could make an argument that advice about how to communicate would be medical science. I don't think this is as much of an issue though, because it includes a necessary visit to the doctor. I.e., if the crux of an answer is "when you see your doctor, don't be afraid to tell them about X", it includes "go see your doctor".

I expect questions about how to communicate with a medical professional would benefit more from the perspective of our more specialized user base, vs. the general user base at IPS. Again, though, I agree that answers to these questions should be closely moderated so they limit their advice to how to communicate with medical professionals rather than how to diagnose or treat a medical condition. As I understand it, this is a bit of a departure from how answers tend to be moderated. Usually, a question would be closed for asking for medical advice rather than an answer deleted for providing medical advice.


Great discussion. I don't have a firm answer but some thoughts on it.

I do think some of those types of questions could potentially be on topic, but likely most would not be, and it could be difficult to concisely explain what is/isn't on topic. I voted that one as off-topic for a few reasons.

One, there is an entire "Interpersonal Skills" SE dedicated to communication. In the case of the question linked, I think it would be better suited there.

Two, it can easily cross over into "medical advice" or "second opinion" territory. In this case, to answer the question requires addressing the fact that the patient doubled the prescribed dose despite the clinician stating not to, addressing the max recommended dosing for the medication, and potentially addressing side effects of exceeding max dosage - otherwise it could be perceived as condoning the decision.

Three, we can never know the clinician's side of the situation. It's even possible that she/he did explain why and the patient doesn't remember. There is research showing that patients retain only a small percentage of what the physician tells them after going home. This makes answering it potentially very difficult.

I think the answer to that question by one of our participant scholars was well handled, using theory and remaining objective. But it isn't easily done, and invites non-experts to answer it with opinion. The volume of participation on InterpersonalSkills.SE is much more equipped to handle voting up/down non-expert contributions.

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