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Bedside Manner For Difficult Conditions

12th September 2019

Freelance writer Jocasta Morrison is back with her latest findings on the correct bedside manner

Medical conditions can be difficult to discuss, and research is showing that is having a significant impact on lives. According to North Hampshire CCG, 47% of medical professionals feel women have been ‘too embarrassed’ to approach doctors about potential cancer warning signs, leading to a delayed diagnosis. For healthcare professionals, it’s important to build a rapport with your patients so that they can feel confident in coming to you – no matter the problem – and you’ll boost your career in the long run.

Tackle embarrassing issues head-on

Certain medical issues, largely those concerning the private areas of the body, can cause embarrassment in patients, despite often being innocuous or having completely normal causes. Indeed, this is the primary cause for not seeing the doctor, with a Female First magazine report noting that 64% of women would avoid seeing the doctor for potential embarrassment over talking about their problem, rather than the actual diagnosis or procedure itself. For healthcare professionals, tackle this by treating embarrassing issues as something routine. Use the language you need to use, don’t be coy around the subject, and make it seem routine. Finally, make your patient aware that they are not alone; this can be more comforting than anything.

Break down stigma

Modern doctors, and especially GPs, cover a huge range of conditions and areas of medicine. This includes, for example, mental health, which will impact 1 in 4 people at some point during life according to the Mental Health Foundation. Of those people, 90% say stigma has a negative impact, both on day-to-day life and their ability to seek care. As a healthcare professional, tackle stigmatized conditions like mental health, venereal disease and skin conditions with professionalism and support; make your patient feel welcome and like they are, again, not alone.

Build a rapport

More than any one factor, it is crucial that you build a rapport with your patients. Doctors were once well known in their villages and as a family friends, and while the system works differently today, there is no reason why you cannot be friendly and on good terms with patients. Having that friendly trust and confidence in one another will benefit every other important factor.

Healthcare professionals play a key role in building awareness and breaking down stigma barriers. Difficult and ‘awkward’ conditions can create patients reticent to explain their problems in depth, and this can create problems down the line. Be professional, but be a friend, too, and you’ll have happier and healthier patients.”

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