Psychology in Respiratory Therapy

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Psychology in Respiratory Therapy
When I decided I wanted to be a respiratory therapist, I never imagined that I would be dealing with any psychological aspects. As I have learned more about the respiratory system and the patients that I will treat, I can see that I will deal with some psychological factors quite often. In respiratory therapy there are psychological factors that can affect a person’s ability to breath and their quality of breathing. A range of emotional factors including fear, stress, anxiety, and pain can affect a person’s ability to breathe correctly and efficiently. The healthcare environment involves a considerable amount of stress and anxiety. Patients often demonstrate fear for their own well- being or that of their family members. The stress of upcoming surgeries or the news of a chronic illness will often affect patients. “In a study of patients diagnosed…[t]he most frequent responses were shock (54%), fright (46%), acceptance (40%), sadness (24%), and “not worried” (15%)” ("Enhancing physician-patient communication," 2012). The percentages just listed can ultimately lead to a high percentage of patients that may experience trouble breathing in response to the delivery of unfavorable news from their doctors. With my knowledge of psychology I can help to remove some of the fear and anxiety of some of my patients. For example, a patient who has just been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) may be very upset and frightened that their quality of life will be diminished. I can however help the patient cope by expressing the positive results that can come from pulmonary rehabilitation. I can focus the patient on overcoming the obstacles that lay ahead, instead of focusing on the negatives, which may lead to depression and/or other medical complications. Not only will I deal with patients who have received unfavorable news, but I will also have to understand how each individual patient will understand or comprehend what I tell them, when it comes to their treatment(s). “Compliance depends on understanding the use of a medication and the importance of staying on it, as well as communication between doctors and patients about side effects and effectiveness…[i]f patients find value in a treatment, they will comply"("Enhancing physician-patient communication," 2012). This category may deal with patients who have had brain injuries, elderly patients who don’t understand what I say but are ashamed to speak up, or patients who are under anesthesia or mind altering medications. I must acquire the ability to properly teach effective techniques without insulting my patients’ intelligence. I also have to understand things such as: I cannot properly educate a patient to use respiratory equipment immediately after they come out of surgery and are still affected by anesthesia; I have to be able to recognize if a patient will have the hand, eye, breath coordination to use different types of inhalers; I will need to be aware of patients’ activities in their daily lives and which respiratory device will least impede their quality of life. One of the first topics covered in the respiratory program was professionalism and interaction, or bedside manner, with patients. We were told that for some reason patients will often open up to us unlike they do with their doctors and/or nurses. “One study showed that patients value good bedside manner and listening skills more than clinical competence… good bedside manner has also been implicated in improving overall health status…This increased significance has been related to the fact that the customers must bare themselves both physically and emotionally” (Person & Finch, 2009). With a little knowledge of psychology I will be better able to help comfort patients emotionally which is very important because a happy patient is less likely to have anxiety induced respiratory problems, which ultimately means less work per patient and allows...
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