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Written Reflections Offer Insight Into Physician Communication

Common themes include interdependence of communication, subtleties of patient behavior

THURSDAY, July 16, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Common themes relating to patient communication have been identified in physicians’ written reflections, according to research published online July 6 in the Journal of Health Communication.

Ashley P. Duggan, Ph.D., from Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass., and colleagues examined physicians’ written reflections to gain insight into their interpretation of the stated and tacit aspects of their observations, responses, and intended actions relating to communication. Over the course of one year, 33 Tufts University Family Medicine residents completed three exercises each week, for a total of 756 reflective entries. Within the reflections, communication-related concepts were identified by an interdisciplinary team.

The researchers identified multiple themes within the reflections. These included physician recognition of the interdependence of communication behavior; physician awareness of subtleties of patient behavior as an indicator for understanding patients’ lives and their ability to cope with illness; and physician images of growth and awareness about communication suggestive of their own potential for growth and improvement.

“Promoting reflection about communication can sharpen awareness and attentiveness to anthropological and relational components of clinical practice,” the authors write. “The communication based on reflective and self-critical attitudes fosters physicians’ abilities to acknowledge, identify, and express their strengths, achievements, successes, vulnerabilities, limitations, errors, and areas of growth.”

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