Chamberlain College of Nursing NR393 Nursing History

Chamberlain College of Nursing NR393 Nursing History

Differences Between Closed- and

Open-Ended Questions


When interviewing individuals, one is more likely to obtain comprehensive information when asking open-ended questions instead of closed-ended questions.

Think back to the days of mental health nursing and therapeutic communication skills. The emphasis was on asking open-ended questions to encourage the patient to share information, clarify, and reflect to ensure that the nurse heard what the patient was trying to communicate.

Skilled communication goes a few steps further. Respectful, collaborative communication among and between the nurse and the patient is important and valuable. In Milestone #2 of your Course Project, you are to develop specific initial and follow-up questions that reflect an understanding of the categories that you selected about the influence culture may have on your interviewee. Active listening to seek understanding and using key follow-up questions are crucial when trying to elicit optimum information to provide culturally competent care.

Closed-Ended Questions

For purposes of this assignment, closed-ended questions are those for which you are only expecting a one-word answer like yes, or no, or one’s age, educational level, country of origin, and so on. You should have this information already, and it is not necessary to ask for it again. Closed-ended questions may convey to your interviewee that you are in a hurry and may not really be interested in answers. Closed-ended questions can be answered with a short phrase or a one-word answer. They may be appropriate when you are completing a checklist for a health history for a new patient, but they are not appropriate when trying to find out more about one’s culture. Closed-ended questions have the potential to end the conversation.

Questions to Avoid

Questions to avoid include, but are not limited to, the following.

Do you…? Are you…? Will you…? Have you…? Can you…?


Open-Ended Questions

On the other hand, open-ended questions help you to elicit much more information and convey to your interviewee that you are truly interested in his or her answers. Open-ended questions require responses containing more than one word. A more in-depth and lengthy response is helpful in discovering more about a situation or a person, especially as it relates to culture of origin. This promotes further discussion.

Questions to Ask

Phrases in responses include, but are not limited to, the following.

Please tell me more about… It seems to me that…
I need more information about… I gather that…
Describe that more fully for me… I hear you describing…
Let’s talk more about… With experiences like yours…
I’m not sure I follow. Please explain… It sounds like…
It might be helpful for me to know… How do you feel about…
Help me understand… What you’re saying is…
I’m wondering…  



NR393 Differences Between Closed Open Ended Questions 6/23/2017 JM 2

"Is this question part of your assignment? We can help"