How communication can make the patients feeling better!?

When patients go to a doctor, they are not only looking for the doctor to hand them some medicines to cure their ailment but for someone to listen properly to what problem they are having, offer them some advice and words of comfort and then explain to them what is happening. If you read this carefully, you will understand how little use of medical knowledge is made in comparison to how much one has to make use of communication skills. This is the crux of each consultation with a doctor.

It is through establishing good communication skills that one can build a rapport with the patient that puts them at ease and makes the patient open up more, and begin to talk about all that is bothering him.1 This is exactly like a psychotherapy session where you only talk with your psychiatrist or psychologist and you feel much better through this alone.

You can find out several things that are bothering the patient apart from the disease when you talk with them, and remove them one by one through communication so you and the patient can then focus on the health issue. You can help them get rid of their fears, apprehensions and concerns. For instance, a research published in the journal of clinical oncology, 2 carried out in breast cancer patients found that patients were more comfortable and prepared for their consultation after the preparatory sessions. Previously 64% percent of the patients reported three or more communication barriers and these sessions removed any communication barriers they might have felt and opened up more to the doctor, leaving them thoroughly satisfied.

Patients are also able to give better historical information when rapport is built as they do not feel judged or scared. They can feel the doctors concern through the empathy shown and by gaining the doctors full attention. More than half the information doctors need for diagnosis is within the history so through this rapport building you can counsel your patients better, identify the risk factors and guide them accordingly. Once you explain to them about their ailment, it makes them feel involved and responsible which results in improved compliance rates in patients to medicines.

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, 3 nurses are still better at communicating with patients and hearing them out as they make use of the patient-centred approach taught in their nursing training, where the patient has all the autonomy to make decisions about his treatment and medicines. This approach is something health care organizations are not interested in. Where would that lead us? Potentially gaps in treatments and patients feeling dissatisfied by the quality of care being given.

By establishing better communication skills alongside the patient-centred approach you remove the psychological impact the patients have been having, which has the ability to cure a major chunk of their disease, and you also build rapport with them assuring them that they have found the perfect doctor to trust and who will support them going forward.

  1. Maguire P, Pitceathly C. Key communication skills and how to acquire them. BMJ: British Medical Journal. 2002 Sep 28;325(7366):697.

      2. Sepucha KR, Belkora JK, Mutchnick S, Esserman LJ. Consultation planning to help breast cancer patients prepare          for medical consultations: effect on communication and satisfaction for patients and physicians.

        Journal of  Clinica Oncology. 2002 Jun 1;20(11):2695-700.

     3. McCabe C. Nurse–patient communication: an exploration of patients’ experiences. Journal of clinical nursing. 2004 Jan 1;13(1):41-9.

Written by Dr. Aref Alabed ,