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Rx for time-crunched physicians
Date:7/14/2008

ing self-management, suggesting healthy changes, assessing motivation, learning the patient's family and cultural beliefs, understanding the social and psychological problems that are diminishing the patient's ability to function, or getting to the root of medically unexplained symptoms.

Near the end, reach a mutual agreement on a plan: The physician and patient decide on approaches the patient is willing to follow to manage or prevent the health concerns explored during the visit.

Throughout the office visit, it's helpful for physicians to:

  • Establish rapport and maintain the relationship: Some ways doctors do this are by eye contact, recognizing others in the room, or a brief warm greeting, such as, "Nice to see you." On the other hand, too much small talk steals away time from considering the patient's problems.

  • Practice mindfully: This occurs when physicians pay close attention to their own beliefs and reduce distractions in order to observe their patients' response to what is being said and done, and adjust accordingly. For example, a doctor lecturing on excess weight might notice the patient withdrawing. The doctor stops and asks about the patient's views. A physician who doesn't continuously monitor the interaction or doesn't check in with the patient may cover areas of little interest to the patient, and miss significant issues.

  • Track topics: Sometimes an interview veers off course, particularly when there are multiple topics and no clear agenda. Unless the conversation is redirected, it's likely that no clear decisions will be made on some problems before the end of the visit. Sharing an impression of what has and hasn't been covered and realigning by agreeing on what to talk about next can keep the discussion organized.

  • Acknowledge cues: When a physician responds with empathy to a patient's cues, a patient may reveal beliefs and preferences that can shape a successful treatment p
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Contact: Leila Gray
leilag@u.washingtone.edu
206-685-0381
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert

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