Module 4 – General communication strategies

    1. Open questions: They give patients enough room to unfold and are a good for starting a conversation. (e.g. What is the reason for you COMING TODAY? Or please describe the pain you are feeling.) It is a doctor’s/ physician’s/ health care worker’s responsibility then to wait until patients have finished their story which is one of the hardest things to do.
    2. Specific Questions: (Where is the pain located?) They are good for getting the focus on a certain topic but they should not be used too often.
    3. Avoid suggestive questions: Suggestive Questions (This hurts, right?) should be avoided at all cost as doctors/ physicians/ health care workers are implying answers with this kind of questions and patients often do not dare to negate that.
    4. Pause: Pauses are the most important elements of good communication.
  1. Doctors/ physicians/ health care workers tent to interrupt their patients after 20 seconds and, therefore, miss a lot of important information. Normally, patients stop their talk by themselves after one minute. It is worth waiting unless your patients has finished their talks and gave to you all the valuable information.
  2. After telling patients a diagnosis or a therapeutic option it is also important to make a pause to give to patient the opportunity to deal with the situation internally.
  • When explaining something to a patient pauses are necessary too for the patient to process a doctor’s/ physician’s/ health care worker’s thoughts and/or to add something
    1. Repeat: Repeating the patient’s story in your own words is highly important as it gives them a chance to add or change things. Only now doctors/ physicians/ health care workers and patients can be sure that they are talking about the same thing. It also shows patients that you are interested in what they say and it offers doctors/ physicians/ health care workers a chance to talk about non-verbal messages they receive.
    2. Summarising: At the end of every conversation should be a summarization so that patients can correct last things or ask questions.