After asking patients questions about their goals and preferences, it is very helpful to re-phrase or paraphrase what the patient has said. This is so that: 

  • They know you have heard them

  • They hear it again, but in different words so that they can correct or confirm what has been said

  • They get to hear their own priorities spoken out loud


Rephrasing requires practice! When done well it:  

  • Builds rapport

  • Demonstrates to the patient that you are listening

  • Gives the person an opportunity to hear their own preferences and desires restated which can help them gain clarity about what is really important to them

  • Gives the person an opportunity to correct you in case you have misheard or misunderstood

  • Allows you to be efficient and control the length and focus of the conversation

  • Allows you to summarize various things the person has said about their preferences in order to move towards decision making


Each time a pregnancy intention question or question about contraception preferences is answered, listen carefully and then re-phrase what was said. 

Pay attention to words, body language and tone of voice.

  • Re-phrasing is not repeating what was said. Re-phrase using different words by capturing the essence of what was meant​

  • In your "re-phrase" incorporate not only what was said, but also indicate that you heard what they meant by their tone of voice and body language

  • You can be more succinct (or more detailed) in what you say when you re-phrase then they were

  • If you aren’t clear on a point, use re-phrasing to clarify

  • You can re-phrase so that you reflect back to them a summary of what they said by putting together content from various things they have discussed at different points during the conversation

  • Check at the end of each re-phrase with something like, “do I have that right?”

"I hear you saying..."


"Do I have that right?"


  • Phrase 1: “So I hear you saying (one of the most important things to you about your birth control is that it is very effective) do I have that right?”

  • Phrase 2: “It sounds like …. (being able to get pregnant when you are ready is your top priority) is that what you mean?”

  • Phrase 3: “So, you feel pretty strongly about…” (not getting pregnant before you finish school)”

  • Phrase 4 “Many of my patients say they… (have side effects from hormones) is that what you mean?”

    • This is not really a re-phrase—this phrase helps when you are unclear about what they meant by what they said or if they are not responding to the question.

Los Angeles, CA
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