Guest Article: Building Patient Relationships with Communication and Comfort

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Like other healthcare providers, physiotherapists are entrusted with the physical and mental well-being of their patients. They are tasked with maintaining a high level of care and supportive relationships with current and future patients. It is important for future professionals to understand the effort it requires to build beneficial physiotherapist-patient relationships and how these relationships can enhance a physiotherapy practice.

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The first step in establishing any kind of relationship, personal or professional, is through clear communication. Currently, patients want to understand every aspect of their treatment, from possible side effects to home treatment options, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal. Good first impressions are the catalyst to patient satisfaction. Physiotherapists should thoroughly describe in simple terms the patient’s issue, and how treatment will address the problem at the start of the first session. It is also important for the patient to understand potential risks of treatment, how long it could take and what needs to be done in the absence of the physiotherapist to promote further recovery.

Comfort levels should also be factored into physiotherapy sessions. The best way a physiotherapist can prove that comfort is a priority is to encourage communication whenever a patient feels discomfort or pain. The Institute for Integrative Healthcare Studies reports that physical touch can reveal vulnerabilities in people who have experienced trauma and this can result in uncomfortable situations. Physiotherapists can make someone feel secure by showing compassion and support during emotional responses. It may be difficult to predict who may have trust issues with experiencing touch, and it is in the physiotherapist’s best interest to maintain a routine that embraces a particular patient’s comfort zone.

The most effective physiotherapy treatment is collaborative. Patients should feel comfortable expressing concerns and asking questions. Most complaints by patients and the public about healthcare providers deal with communication and practitioners not listening to patient concerns. Clear communication with practitioners offers patients tangible benefits. According to the BMJ, many studies show that significant positive associations exist between a practitioner’s communication skills and patient satisfaction. According to the Healthcare Providers Service Organization, practitioners with high instances of patient satisfaction are less likely to receive accusations of medical malpractice. The BMJ also reports correlations between effective practitioner communication and improved physical health for the patient.

In summary, physiotherapists can gain trust through effective communication and by maintaining a comfortable and safe environment. Satisfied patients recover quickly, spread the word about positive experiences through online reviews and refer others to a specific practice. Physiotherapy students should continue practicing two-way communication throughout the remainder of their schooling.

An article by Ashley Burns, a writer from Florida who blogs about issues pertaining to the health industry. A recent college graduate who majored in journalism, she is very passionate about educating people on the continued problems facing our mental health and medical industry.

A big thank you to Ashley for the good read! 

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