5 Steps for Respectful, Collaborative Patient Communication

By Mia Croyle, MA

Often in the process of talking to patients about behavior change, there comes a point when a practitioner needs to share some information with the patient. Here is a 5-step process for sharing information in a respectful, collaborative, and patient-friendly way:

  1. Ask the patient’s permission
    “Would it be OK if we spend a little time talking about the connection between alcohol use and managing your blood sugar?”
  2.  Explore what the patient might already know
    “First of all, what do you already know about the connection between alcohol and blood sugar?”
  3. Offer additional information, as needed.
    “So you’ve already noticed some connection, just from monitoring your blood sugar readings. You’re not so sure what a safe amount for you to drink might be. Let me tell you what my take on that is….”
  4. Explore the patient’s reactions to the information you have shared.
    “I wonder, what are your thoughts about that?”
  5. Reflect on what you hear from the patient.
    “So it sounds like reducing the amount you drink would be something you are willing to try, if it means your blood sugar will be better controlled.”


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