Effective Nurse-Patient Communication during Uncertainty in Illness
The Healthy People 2020 initiative includes goals to increase the number of patients who report that their healthcare providers listened to them carefully to 65% and increase the number of patients who report that their healthcare provider explained things so they could understand them to 66% (United States Department of Health and Human Services, 2010). The nursing profession plays an important role in making progress toward these goals through advocacy for effective communication. Being able to effectively communicate with patients is an essential skill for healthcare providers, especially nurses, to possess. Nurses spend extensive amounts of time with patients and often confuse talking with patients as communication (Thobaben, 2007). Effective communication demands that nurses not just talk to patients, but rather, speak and listen skillfully. It is often during routine interactions that patient needs, expressions of uncertainty, hopes and fears about treatment options and other health concerns are expressed to nurses requiring an effective response. Notably, the responses given by nurses to patients have important implications for health outcomes (Sheldon & Ellington, 2008). It is pertinent that nurses understand the process of how to efficiently respond to patient cues about health concerns. Within the nursing literature, nurse-patient communication research has often been unsuccessful in its attempts to apply existing communication and nursing theories which could expand the understanding of the process of how nurses respond to patients, particularly during times of uncertainty (Sheldon & Ellington, 2007). According to Mishel, Germino, Pruthi, Wallen, Crandell & Blyler (2009), evidence supports that uncertainty in illness may increase fear which could make decisions about care and treatment... [continues]
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