Therapeutic communication


Is it possible to treat or educate a sick person without partially contacting them? Viewed from a broader perspective, it goes without saying that the answer must be no. It is impossible to effectively treat or care for a person who does not agree with the treatment or does not cooperate with a therapist.

Collaboration, like consent, is directly related to the process of interpersonal communication. It is a process that includes both the exchange of information and the accompanying feelings. According to the theory of symbolic interactionism (1, 2), the exchange of information takes place through signs (symbols), which can be both words and so-called.

“Body language”, which includes gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice, posture, clothing, hairstyles, cosmetics used and many details about behavior and appearance. It is very important that the same symbol, and therefore the same word or gesture, has a completely different meaning in the minds of the recipients.

Hence the main source of misunderstanding between people. More important than the sender’s intentions is the importance they place on their words or the recipient’s behavior. This value can be significantly different from what the sender wanted to express. Maybe that’s where the proverb came from: “Hell is paved with good intentions.” 

Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention to how our speech was understood by the addressee and for this it is necessary to include it somehow in the conversation. In addition, a good conversationalist tries to figure out what the listener is thinking and feeling, and the more he does this, the better he can communicate with him.

In practice, it is not at all easy to reveal the problems and situation of the patient mentioned here. However, this does not change the fact that, whether we like it or not, communication remains an important part of the professional practice of doctors and nurses, and empathy and listening skills often determine the possibility of establishing good contact.

Studies conducted by psychologists show that about 75% of medical diagnosis is primarily information obtained in the process of interpersonal communication in the form of an interview with a patient (3). Moreover, patients who are more satisfied with their interactions with the healthcare team evaluate the overall treatment higher, are more satisfied with their care, and receive better treatment outcomes.

On the other hand, it turns out that most patient complaints to the patient ombudsman, which can also be expressed in the fight for compensation, are caused by poor communication with the doctor, rather than purely medical errors (4). According to some researchers (5), about 50% of patients leave the doctor’s office without a clear idea of ​​what to do next, and the same percentage do not follow medical recommendations at all.

In Poland, a large study (6) showed that, although in the case of medical recommendations directly related to treatment, 60% to 90% of patients follow them, lifestyle recommendations are taken into account (similar to American studies) only with about 50%. patients. Given that whether or not the patient follows the recommendations depends largely on the quality of communication with him, its significance is very clear.

Although from the general point of view presented here, the importance of good communication with the patient seems obvious, however, the development of this topic in detail and especially the provision of clear recommendations on how to achieve it in a particular case presents significant difficulties.