June 27, 2011
Personal and Professional Health Care Communication
"Health communication refers to health-related transactions between individuals who are attempting to maintain health and avoid illness" (Northouse & Northouse, 1998, p. 20). The effectiveness and therapeutic nature of communication between individuals in any health care relationship has a strong influence on the success of interpersonal relationships and health outcomes. Definition of Health Care Communication
Health care communication is any human transaction that focuses on health-related issues. Health care communication refers to any verbal, nonverbal, or written exchanges between health care professionals and their clients or other health care workers trying to prevent illness and maintain health. Health care communication can occur in any health care environment like a hospital, nursing home, doctor’s office, or clinic. Health care communication can also occur in public settings such as conferences, speeches, national health campaigns, and public addresses on health care topics (Northouse & Northouse, 1998). Personal Health Care Communication
Effective personal health care communication is a vital component for the development of successful professional-client and professional-professional relationships. Several communication variables such as empathy, control, trust, self-disclosure, and confirmation can improve communication practices of health care professionals (Northouse & Northouse, 1998).
By expressing empathy, health care professionals help clients and coworkers believe they are understood, and their feelings and views are important (Northouse & Northouse, 1998). Clients need to perceive that they have some control over their circumstances to dispel their feelings of powerlessness during stressful situations like illness. Health care professionals also need to share control through collaboration, which recognizes that all persons involved contributes their own expertise, which is valued, resulting in more productive communication (Northouse & Northouse, 1998). Building trust with clients requires that health care professionals show compassion and support without passing judgment in addition to displaying their expertise. Clients need to believe they can rely on their caregivers to do what is best for them when they feel their most vulnerable. Health care professionals must communicate honestly and respectfully with each other to develop trusting relationships (Northouse & Northouse, 1998). When a trusting relationship forms between health care professionals and clients, clients may feel free to self-disclose their thoughts and feelings to these caregivers because they believe they are safe from ridicule or judgment (Northouse & Northouse, 1998). Health care professionals may also self-disclose their personal feelings of frustration or confusion to coworkers, with whom they have developed a trusting relationship. Last, confirmation is the acknowledgment and validation of an individual’s feelings, opinions, and choices. Through confirmation, health care providers respond to their clients’ thoughts and feelings with support and understanding. Health care professionals also want and need acknowledgment, support, and feedback from other professionals for their contributions to the health care team (Northouse & Northouse, 1998). Consideration of these communication variables will help health care professionals develop stronger communication skills resulting in trusting relationships with their clients and other professionals (Northouse & Northouse, 1998). Professional Health Care Communication: Effect on Health Outcomes
Various types of relationships exist in the health care setting including: professional-patient, professional-professional, professional-family, and patient-family. Professional health care communication...