Communication is a tool of high significance. It is what creates for this understanding between one human being to another. It is how we come to learn things about relationships, health, education, feelings, emotions, and so forth. Without communication, there will be misunderstanding. Without communication, it is like basing life on assumptions. In the healthcare industry, we base a lot of our day to day work on communication—between the nurse to nurse, nurse to doctor, nurse to patient, nurse to family, nurse to the social worker, nurse to the interdisciplinary team. As we take a look at providing and delivering meaningful health promotion and illness prevention based education, we see challenges. Challenges that after communicating with our patients often lead us to question, “Did my patient understand my teaching? Did my patient understand the significance of the teaching? Will my patient be able to apply my teaching into her daily life?”
Living in a society or country that is such a melting pot, not only of ethnicity but also of medical coverage and the different needs involved is such an obstacle for nurses to deliver the best possible teaching that is according to the patient’s needs. When we prepare to teach our patient new information, we must consider all of the different backgrounds, learning styles, languages, lifestyles, their values, views, and aspects of health and what it will mean to them. And when we think of barriers to learning, we automatically go to language barriers. However, that is not the only barrier that is involved. Indeed, there are a few barriers to learning that we must take into account as nurses providing education to our patients. Just because they are in bad physical shape does not mean that they wished that upon themselves—diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. They must have not known any better to take care of their well-being. In addition to that, they may not have had medical insurance to see a primary physician for treatment. Value of health is also a critical factor in determining the best education method for a patient. There are many factors that impact the deliverance of an effective and qualitative education based on health promotion and illness prevention to patients (Module 7: Communication and health education, n.d.). These factors are determined upon the nurse gathering information specific to the patient and devising a teaching plan according to their needs.
Understanding a patient’s view of health promotion and disease prevention helps to guide the nurse in teaching them successfully (Edelman & Mandle, 2010). Our goal should be a successful learning process for the patient and seeing positive changes that greatly affect and improve their health status. For example, let’s consider the case of a newly diagnosed diabetic patient who comes into the medical office managed by nurses for a follow-up. A finger stick blood sugar was obtained and the result is 341. As the nurse seeing this patient, her appointment with this patient shall be a long one that focuses on the education of diabetes to this patient. First, and foremost, the nurse shall ask the patient, “What does diabetes mean to you?” This question shall assess for the patient’s perspective of health promotion and disease prevention and her values. It will open up to a lot of teaching tools for the patient. If she considers the disease to not be as a serious chronic condition, then the nurse shall explain to the patient the nature of the disease and its complications when not effectively controlled. She must include in her teaching the serious consequences of diabetes because it can possibly happen to the patient. Therefore, knowing the patient’s view of health and disease can lead to a meaningful educational time spent with the nurse--one that is valuable, and can be applied to the patient’s daily life. We want for our patients to see the significance of the disease as we do.
As nurses, I am sure that we have all said it to others, and ourselves “Oooohh…I wouldn’t want to be a diabetic.” We say that because we know the impact it would have on anyone’s life, anyone who had been diagnosed with diabetes or other chronic diseases. And we need to instill that kind of mindset in our patients. After all, it’s been called a ‘disease’ because it is a negative condition. There is nothing positive about diabetes or hypertension or asthma or smoking. And, patients need to realize that and take it more seriously. Effective communication and teaching is the only way to achieve that mindset. This scenario is considering a patient who is well-versed with the English language without language barriers, lack of medical insurance, or developmental deficits.
As we reflect upon our teaching and educating our clients, we must consider the patient’s readiness to learn, the barriers involved, their emotional, mental, physical aspect of health promotion and disease prevention, their values of health, their ability to afford medical treatment or not, and coordinate a teaching plan, accordingly. The teaching needs to be based on all of these factors for it to be a positive change in their health. Their outlook and perspectives on health and disease prevention shall be enhanced and influenced by the nurse’s values (Kessler, 2003). Just like raising a child, in order for us to instill a great foundation in our children’s lives, we must have those special qualities, values, faith, and belief. Then we can give them that foundation that is true to us. Therefore, we must provide this strong foundation and our value of health to our patients. To have the same values and beliefs is the beginning of the process of elimination—and that is the elimination of health discrepancies.
Edelman, C. & Mandle, C. L. (2010). Health promotion throughout the lifespan (7th ed.) St. Louis: Mosby.
Kessler, T. A., & Alverson, E. (2003). Health concerns and learning styles of underserved and uninsured clients at a nurse managed center. Journal Of Community Health Nursing, 20(2), 81-92. doi:10.1207/153276503321828013
Module 7: Communication and health education. (n.d.) In Unite for Sight. Retrieved May 24, 2013, from http://www.uniteforsight.org/global-health-delivery-challenges/module6