Communicate better with your doc

Having a consultation with a GP isn’t just about improving your health; it is also a chance to understand what is happening to your body and the role you can play in your own health care.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. Questions can go unasked, answers can go unheard, misunderstood or misremembered.

A recent review of several studies has shown that using a teach-back communication tool can develop better health knowledge and self-care abilities among patients with chronic diseases.

The teach-back method involves a healthcare provider asking a patient to explain, in their own words, what they have just been told. The GP will then work with the patient to clarify any misunderstandings.

Teach-back can help safeguard both patients and healthcare professionals from misunderstandings and missed information during a consultation.

Dr Alison Beauchamp, a Senior Research Fellow in Deakin’s Centre for Population Health Research, has received a fellowship to introduce the ‘teach-back’ approach to patient education in Victorian hospitals.

“This is a structured form of communication aimed at improving health literacy for patients with chronic conditions. Teach-back is shown in other settings to reduce hospital readmissions,” she said.

“As part of teach-back, the patient is asked to describe in their own words what the clinician has told them so they can show the information is clearly understood.”

During her two-year fellowship, Dr Beauchamp will work with nurses to embed the teach-back system as part of their normal processes of patient education.

“We want to find the easiest and best approach to train clinicians in any healthcare setting – whether that’s hospitals, general practice or community health centres,” she said.

“The training has huge benefits for clinicians because it uncovers a lot of the assumptions they might make about how they impart information.”

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This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Written by Ben

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