Physicians May Improve Communication With Patients Through Written Reflection

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Written reflections may help physicians identify common themes relating to patient communication.
Written reflections may help physicians identify common themes relating to patient communication.

(HealthDay News) — Common themes relating to patient communication have been identified in physicians' written reflections, according to research published in the Journal of Health Communication.

Ashley P. Duggan, PhD, from Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, 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 1 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 researchers wrote. 

"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."


  1. Duggan AP et al. J Health Commun. 2015;doi:10.1080/10810730.2015.1018647.
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