I’ve been pondering the approaches to good communication by health professionals. We know that good communication is fundamental to delivery of care to our patients. But what defines this:
- Language style: I think it is imperative for our language style to be age appropriate and take into account our patients level of education, cultural background and understanding about their own health status. I’ve often had to significantly change my communication style, word usage and sentence structure to suite our indigenous patients that I worked with prior to entering medical.
- Active listening: An important component of communication is active listening, which takes into account our own body language, assessing the contents of the patients conversation, their body language, belief system and culture. These are important for indigenous patients where cultural difference can lead to a break down in communication. I’m still working on this point.
- Provision of information: This relates to the first point and it should be simple, clear and direct. We must avoid our moral values and beliefs from interfering with the extent and breadth of information provided to patients. More importantly we should allow the patient to draw their own conclusions based upon life circumstances.
- Questions: Our patients should be given ample opportunity to ask questions, clarifications and validations of key facts presented. This ensures that both parties agree and understand the facts presented during the conversation
- Summarise: Prior to ending the conversation we should summarise the information presented and allow opportunity for the patient to ask questions. Furthermore, we must make ourself available for further discussion if the need arises.
Also check out the seven daily sins of speaking