Tips for Talking with Your Patients
Good communication between practitioners
and their patients builds trust, helps the patient disclose
information, aids the patient in making better health decisions,
helps to control patient expectations and reduces the risk
It is important for practitioners to build
and nurture relationships with their patients. They do so
by applying good communication skills:
- Be an active
listener. Ask open ended questions. Pay attention
to verbal and non-verbal cues. Get clarification of the
information provided by the patient.
- Build a rapport
with the patient. Be sensitive to the needs of
the patient including understanding their beliefs, fears,
and social and cultural background. Encourage them to
ask questions. Show interest in their concerns.
in plain English. Speak slowly, deliberately and
clearly. Provide information in small chunks and don’t
overwhelm patients with technical details unless asked.
Where appropriate, use pictures or diagrams to explain
- Use appropriate
body language and voice tone. Rememberyour body
language speaks to the patient as well. Keep eye contact
and remain attentive. Speak in a firm yet friendly tone.
accurate information. Explain the nature of the
illness or condition. Define the diagnosis and the soundness
of the medical knowledge available. Inform the patient
of the expected course of treatment, interventions and
outcomes. When appropriate, inform the patient of alternative
courses of action.
- Make sure
your message is clear and understood. Ask the patient
to repeat instructions or restate the findings. If necessary,
repeat the information and provide sources for additional
information. Correct any misunderstandings immediately
and fully. When appropriate, suggest informing other
caregivers to aid the patient.
For more information on communicating with
your patients, see the web sites listed below:
American Cancer Society
American Heart Association
American College of Physicians
Canadian Association of Cardiac Rehabilitation