Background and objectives The encounter between doctors and multi-problem poor patients tends to be an encounter between different values and beliefs. So it is important to get a better understanding of how the beliefs and values of family doctors and these patients interact, in order to learn more about the interaction patterns and how they may affect the intervention process.Methods This exploratory study was carried out in Portugal using the critical incidents technique, comprising a sample of 30 multi-problem poorpatients and 30 family doctors. Results The main findings suggest that: ‘relationship’ is a common category for both parties and is both positively and negatively viewed; ‘efficacy’ emerges for both actors as positive, while ‘inefficacy’ emerges as negative from the patients’ point of view;‘clients’ disobedience of doctors’ instructions’ emerges as a negative category from the professionals’ perspective.Conclusion Interactions seem to be framed by a traditional view of the doctor as decision maker, and the patient as the recipient of decisions, whichleads to the disempowerment of the client.Practical implications Training should make doctors aware of multi-problem poor patients’ life circumstances, and the values and beliefs they hold.
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