patient health care professional communication

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Discuss any three factors which must be considered by a HCP to improve health & well being of individual support individuals in keeping healthy.

This assignment will discuss how health care professionals can help progress patient care improving service user interaction by working effectively within interprofessional teams; demonstrating an understanding in patient behaviour and patient health care professional communication, values that can support patients' health and well being.

In improving service user interaction particular attention is advised to be paid to body language, the nonverbal communication between patient and health care professional (Martin & Friedman 2005; MacDonald, 2004; Dillon, 2007). Dickson et al (1989) concurs that health care professionals would benefit from the use of effective communication in the context of interviewing patients. Sometimes body language portrayed by a patient may conflict with verbal messages; this would indicate they may be trying to facade something (Martin & Friedman, 2005).

The health care professional should make regular but not intrusive eye contact to show interest, a lack of eye contact can signal a lack of concern, embarrassment or submissiveness which could dissuade the patient from confiding (Myerscough & Ford, 1996; MacDonald, 2004). Understanding can be conveyed with a relaxed body posture and appropriate facial expressions (Dickson et al, 1989). Sitting a suitable distance from the patient to allow touch to the patient if this is supportive, may encourage the patient to be more relaxed and open (Myerscough & Ford, 1996).

A simple gesture such as a handshake at the beginning of a meeting can reassure the patient and have a positive effect on the relationship (Myerscough & Ford, 1996; Dickson et al, 1989). The health care professional should maintain enough distance to the patient to avoid interference into each other's personal space whilst at the same time acquiring enough space to allow confidentiality (Workman & Bennett, 2003; Dillon, 2007). There may be times when it is necessary to move closer to the patient, if a patient is hard of hearing, unable to move or for treatment (Myerscough & Ford, 1996; Williams, 1997).

To efficiently increase learning skills and improve communication health care professionals could receive and interpret information from patients (Dickson et al, 1989). Patients should be encouraged to have independence by making decisions about their treatment with guidance (Public Guardian, 2009). Clarifying questions can help to receive direct answers, asking too many questions at once may confuse the patient and they tend to only answer the last question asked (Minardi & Riley, 1997). Paraphrasing and summarising is an effective way to make clear what is being discussed (Minardi & Riley, 1997). Throughout any discussion with the patient the health care professional should respect their confidentiality (Servellen, 2008).

Social background should make no difference as to how a patient is dealt with, each person deserves the time, commitment and treatment needed (Townsend et al, 1992). We live in a society with different cultures, genders and class; judgments can hinder relations between patient and health care professionals (Thompson, 2002; Dickson et al, 1989). Patients can often feel they lose individuality and feel their condition is treated and not them as a human being (Taylor, 1997).

People with disabilities often feel isolated and frustrated, fear rejection and feel self conscious. Some people are either born with disabilities or have developed them through disease or accident. If a patient has an issue with a problem they have it is important to evade alienating them by ignoring their feelings (Myerscough & Ford, 1996). Patients should feel they have enough time to describe any issues they have without feeling uncomfortable, analysed or criticised by the health care worker, who should remain impartial (Myerscough & Ford, 1996). Health care professionals should not make assumptions about patients who may have some form of mental disability as this can reflect in the patients on self-esteem (Practice Nurse, 2003b).

Showing empathy, not sympathy towards patients is important (Minardi & Riley, 1997). Burnard (1992) advises it is wrong to make assumptions about someone just because of the way they dress, their lifestyle or attitude, as these can sometimes be interpreted poorly, health care professionals should reflect about how they came to those ideas and question what that says about them.

All health care professionals would benefit from working as a team of interprofessionals to improve patient's health care (Burnard, 1992). With numerous occupations in the health care profession it is remarkable how each individual has their own observation and diagnosis of the patient (Soothill et al, 1995). It is important to understand the roles of other health care professions and the responsibilities they face in order to work as a successful team (Thompson, 2002).

Servellen (2008) explains coordination and quality of care are paramount and failure in provision can have an unconstructive effect on patients' contentment, leading to lack of trust and reluctance to be treated. The use of written correspondence to avoid confusing messages can help improve overall care of patients (Mackay, 1993). Mistakes, such as wrong medication, treatment or food can have unnecessary effects on the patient (Mackay, 1993). Portraying self-awareness increases confidence in the patient and their family, combined with regularity in communication this provides increased trust from the patient (Servellen, 2008). There should be a balance of gentleness and assertiveness (Thompson, 2002).

Continuous professional development adds new challenges, it shows the willingness to learn and expand knowledge that keeps motivation within the health care professionals job (Thompson, 2002). Evaluating involvement within the health care profession allows lessons to be learned from a professional and personal level, whilst evaluating practice enables assessment; this is good practice that identifies strengths and possible weaknesses that can be addressed to improve service user interaction, inter-professional working and health behaviour (Thompson, 2002).

Reflective practice is a way of making sense of doubt. Learning to deal with situations, sometimes stressful, can be a constructive experience for the health care professional. Situations sometimes need to be hectic in order to learn under pressure. Without learning there is little improvement in the skills of the health care professional. Choices are made by health care professionals every minute of their working day (Ghaye & Lillyman, 2000).

To deal with health behaviour a health care professional can be the voice of the patient enabling them to express their beliefs, emotions, hopes and worries to find a way of dealing with their feelings, everyone has a voice and they may express their voice in different ways (Ghaye & Lillyman, 2000). Values make a person who they are, why they do what they do and why (Ghaye & Lillyman, 2000).

It is not always an easy task to encourage a patient to change their views. A person may smoke because they believe it relieves stress regardless of the effect on their health (Townsend et al, 1992). All smoking accomplishes is to help a person forget about the stress they have for a short period of time, it then becomes a cycle that is tough to break (Townsend et al, 1992). Finding out why a person smokes and why they enjoy smoking can be of help in understanding any underlying problems the patient may have (Practice Nurse, 2003a). A situation where a person is strong willed in the wrong manner can make the health care professionals responsibility difficult (Lewis et al, 1993).

It is important to keep to realistic goals for patients to aid with their motivation and confidence, in comparison, a patient's improvement can be deterred by unrealistic goals being set (Thompson, 2002). Significance should be placed to avoid speaking in medical terms to a patient; this could confuse them unnecessarily and cause difficulty in communication (Thompson, 2002; MacDonald, 2004). A full explanation is needed to reassure the patient and clarify information to avoid anguish (Dickson et al, 1989).

People in general have different ideas on improving their health. A health care professional can help to encourage a healthier lifestyle and reduce sickness by offering advice and assessing action taken by the patient (Lewis et al, 1993). Helping patients to refrain from suppressing their feelings can avert physiological difficulties; as when someone is tense, they can develop postural problems (Burnard, 1992).

Physical stress symptoms may lead to a lack of rest, tiredness, little or no appetite and digestion disturbance, psychological stress affects the mind of patients and can lead to apprehension enthusiasm (Dillon, 2007; Practice Nurse, 2003a). Increased levels of stress in a patient of Ill health can reduce their ability to cope with everyday life lacking in enthusiasm (Dillon, 2007; Practice Nurse, 2003a). Burnard (1992) confers how it is important as health care professionals to recognise this, although this is not always easy to spot. As we gain knowledge we better understand there is a connection linking body posture, the muscles, joints and the mind, a relaxed mind would encourage a relaxed body.

This essay has argued that patient care and well being can be improved through the implementation of good all round verbal and nonverbal communication without prejudice or discrimination (MacDonald, 1997; Dillon, 2007). Sometimes patients just need to be asked how their poor health affects them and the quality of their life (Baker, 2000).

Engaging with other people enables interaction and understanding in communicating with people. Excellent communication and information given to patients is essential to patient care, organisation, well being and recovery (Taylor, 1997; Dickson et al, 1989; Martin & Friedman, 2005). Health professionals play a significant part to ensuring good working practice and job satisfaction (Thompson, 2002).


(2003a) Smoking cessation. Practice Nurse, 26: 7, 52-56.

(2003b) What is Stigma, Practice Nurse, 26: 10, 18-19.

Baker, M. (2000) Modernising NHS, patient care (empowerment): the view from a national society, accessed 10th November 2009, 6.10pm,

Burnard, P. (1992) Effective communication skills for health professionals, Chapman & Hall, London.

Dickson, D.A., Hargie, O., Morrow, N.C. (1989) Communication skills training for health professionals, Chapman & Hall, London.

Dillon, P.M. (2007) Nursing health assessment; A critical thinking, case studies approach. 2nd Ed. F.A. Davies Company, Philadelphia.

Ghaye, T., Lillyman, S. (2000) Reflection: Principles and practise for health care professionals, Quay Books, Wiltshire.

Lewis, L.V.W., Timby, B. K., Frawley, B. (1993) Fundamental skills and concepts in patient care, 5th Ed, Chapman & Hall, London.

MacDonald, E. (Ed.) (2004) Difficult conversations in medicine, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Mackay, L. (1993) Conflicts in care: medicine and nursing, Chapman & Hall, London.

Martin, L.R., Friedman, H.S. (2005) ‘Nonverbal Communications and Health Care', In: Riggio, R.E., Feldman, R.S. (Eds.) Applications of nonverbal communication, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc., London. pp.3-16.

Minardi, H.A., Riley, M.J. (1997) Communication in health care: a skills based approach, Butterworth-Heinemann, Boston.

Myerscough, P., Ford, M. (1996) Talking with patients, keys to good communication, 3rd Ed, Oxford University Press Inc, Oxford.

Office of the Public Guardian (2009) The code of Practice, accessed 7th November 2009, 5.18pm

Servellen, G.M.V. (2008) Communication skills for the health care professional; concept, practice and evidence, 2nd Ed, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, London.

Soothill, K., Mackay, L., Webb, C. (Eds.) (1995) Interprofessional relations in health care, Edward Arnold, London.

Taylor, S., Field, D. (Eds.) (1997) Sociology of health and health care, 2nd Ed, Blackwell Science Ltd, Oxford.

Thompson, N. (2002) People skills, 2nd Ed. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.

Townsend, P., Whitehead, M., Davidson, N. (Eds.) (1992) Inequalities in health: the black report & the health divide, 2nd Ed. Penguin Books Ltd, London.

Williams, D. (1997) Communication skills in practice: A practical guide for health professionals, Jessica Kingsley, London.

Workman, B.A., Bennett, C.L. (2003) Key Nursing Skills, Whurr Publishers Ltd, London.