ISSUES AFFECTING COMMUNICATION IN HEALTH CARE

Introduction

Different patients entering the health care facilities have their unique needs. This needs include the clinical symptoms that need medical attention. Additionally they include issues that are specific to certain individuals and can affect their care. Across the care continuum, the hospitals need to be prepared enough to address both clinical aspect of health care and the spectrum of individual patient’s personal and demographic background. Basically, the hospitals traditionally lay focus on meeting the patients’ clinical needs.  As such, they are keen to prevent errors that have a potential of resulting in negative impacts on the quality and safety of the health care. However, different patients have different and unique characteristics and nonclinical needs. These non clinical needs have a great potential of affecting how they participate, review or receive health care. Most of the patients experience poor or unsafe healthcare outcomes due to their ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, disability or race (Horevitz, Lawson, & Chow, 2013). Such negative consequences arise from the unmet needs of communication mobility and culture.  Effective communication therefore demands that a healthcare organization ensures cultural competence through adapting to diversity and individual or community cultural contexts as well as manage the diversity of differences.

Discussion

In order to meet patients’ health care needs in a safe and quality manner, communication is very crucial. Additionally, it has to be effective. Communication that is effective involves successful establishment of meaning between the patients and the healthcare providers. The information exchange enables the patients to actively participate in their care throughout the care continuum so that the responsibility of both the care provider and the patient are well understood. In order for this communication to be defective, it has to happen in a two way, in which case, the message negotiation takes place until a correct understanding of the information is achieved (Arnold, & Boggs, 2015).

First, for effective communication to be achieved in health care provision, the organization needs to manage the diversity of differences. The diversity of differences stem from individual differences that characterize the society. Individuals have differences that include; sex; gender roles; tasks performed by adolescents and other age groups; family and individual social status; sexual orientation among others differences. An understanding of these differences is very crucial. The health care professional is not necessarily sharing the same characteristic as the patient. Also, making assumptions that the health care professional shares the same values with the individual patient is wrong. As such, health care professionals need to be open and comfortable with the differences they encounter. This implies that the health organization needs to adapt care that is congruent to the client’s uniqueness. For instance, gay individuals can sometimes face challenges being understood by a straight clinician. A health care professional handling a gay patient needs to put aside their prejudice, act with openness to the patient and show comfort to enable the patient be in good communication with them.

Individual differences also influence the willingness to share one’s thoughts and feelings. Different people act differently in relation to personal issues (Koppelman, 2013). The introverted individuals would mostly want to keep information to themselves or would be too uncomfortable sharing out their thoughts. Health professionals should be able to understand this uniqueness of personalities among individuals. Other factors to be noted when handling individual differences are the non verbal communications which include use of eye contact, body language and facial expressions.

In order to enable effective communication between the health professional and a patient, the concepts that relate to dominant language and the contextual use of language are necessary (Butts, & Rich, 2013). Individuals of different age categories have certain language use tendencies unique to that age or perhaps unique to their social class. In the western world an individual stands alone as a culture by himself. However, in Africa and the East, individuals are looked at in terms of their families or community. These differences in approaches affect the communication in healthcare provision. Each individual is a unique personality with unique problems.

Consequently, in order to intervene on the individual diversity differences, nursing professionals should have the conscious of diversity differences between and among different people. This will enable them to treat each patient as a unique individual with unique needs (Butts, & Rich, 2013). Further it will enable mannerism of negotiating information between the health professional and the patient. A proper negotiation of information will lead to effective communication in the end.

Secondly, effective communication can be achieved through adapting to diversity and individual or community cultural contexts (Koppelman, 2013). Several communication issues stem from the individual and community cultural contexts. Different cultures have different sets of values that define their way of life. Diversity in culture implies difference in languages. They also include difference in physical stature, endemic, heredity and diseases.

Phillips, Salem, & Woods, (2015) posits that; cultural competence is necessary to address the effective communication barriers. Health care organizations and health professionals need to develop awareness of the patients’ cultures thoughts and environment. Health care professionals lack of knowledge and skills on the patients’ culture immensely hamper effective communication. The nursing professional need to demonstrate the knowledge and skills of the patients’ culture and their health related needs. Similarly the meaning of health and illness by different cultures are necessary. The need to understand the patients’ ethno-cultural believes and values underscore the effectiveness of communication with the patients.  Cultural understanding leads to elimination of prejudice and stereotypes. In order for the health care to be effective, there is need for understanding the beliefs, attitudes and values of a community. An adaptation to standard intervention is key to since the cultural awareness will improve the nursing professionals self awareness.

Ting-Toomey, (2012) notes that; different cultures defined by their ethnicity have different communication styles. The variant cultural characteristics also include taboo practices and view towards mental illness. This view and perspectives need to be understood by the nursing professional to enable them communicate effectively with the patients and their caregivers. Culture diversity can be a huge barrier to effective communication. Cultures provide the people who subscribe to it with a way of seeing things and hearing as well as interpreting the world. It is important that when one is interacting with patients, they take not of the fact that some words could mean different things to individuals from different cultures. The potential for misunderstanding therefore is increased by the difference in cultures.

Effective communication is also hampered by culture in the sense that, cognitive and behavior constraints which are constructed by each culture differently can affect both non verbal and verbal communication (Ting-Toomey, 2012). Similarly, different cultures have different ways of communicating emotions and regulate emotional display differently. For instance, some cultures are fond of getting very emotional when debating issues displaying their feelings openly. Others may be very covert in displaying their feelings of pain, frustrations and disappointments.  A proper understanding of these aspects of cultural diversity is very important. All these differences that stem from cultural diversity are a cause for communication problems.

Health care organizations have the objective of providing quality and safe care to the patients. However with miscommunication characterizing the sector, the quality and safety is still but a dream. What then needs to be done to address the communication challenge? A number of strategies can be adopted by the nursing professionals and the health organizations.

The health care institution should gain understanding and respond to the cultural and language needs of the individual patients in the healthcare facility. This can only be achieved when bias and prejudice are minimized; the health care reflects a unique understanding of values, practices, beliefs and attitudes of the community around it; when the therapeutic environment involves individuals of diverse cultures; when patients can be viewed with their unique cultural and ethnic environments.

Conclusion

Effective communication is very important in ensuring that the quality of healthcare is guaranteed. This is because the errors are able to be minimized and consequently safety of the patients can be achieved. The different patients entering the health care facilities have their unique needs. They may include the clinical symptoms that need medical attention and also those issues that are specific to certain individuals and can affect their care. However, Most of the patients experience poor or unsafe healthcare outcomes arising from the unmet needs of communication mobility and culture.  Effective communication is therefore crucial in ensuring the narrative reversed. Therefore, it is prudent that a healthcare organization ensures cultural competence through adapting to diversity and individual or community cultural contexts as well as manages the diversity of differences. Effective communication can be achieved through adapting to diversity and individual or community cultural contexts since several communication issues stem from the individual and community cultural contexts. Different cultures have different sets of values that define their way of life. Also, Individual differences affect the communication in health care. It influences the willingness to share one’s thoughts and feelings.  As explained, introverted individuals would mostly want to keep information to themselves or would be too uncomfortable sharing out their thoughts. Health professionals should be able to understand this uniqueness of personalities among individuals to realize effective communication so that quality, safe and patient centered healthcare can be achieved.

 

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