Researchers have proposed five practices that could help “foster presence and meaningful connection with patients” during clinical encounters. Reporting in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the researchers examined studies of interpersonal interventions, analysed physician–patient interactions, and interviewed professionals outside of health care whose jobs required “intense interpersonal interactions.”
Ultimately, with the help of experts, they narrowed a list of 31 potential practices to five:
1. “Prepare with intention” — Take time to familiarise yourself with the patient before starting the visit.
2. “Listen intently and completely” — Sit and lean forward as you listen to the patient. Do not interrupt.
3. “Agree on what matters most” — Seek out what the patient cares about most and make these things priorities during the visit.
4. “Connect with the patient’s story” — Ask patients about life circumstances; give genuine praise for efforts in specific areas.
5. “Explore emotional cues” — Be alert for verbal and nonverbal cues from the patient and validate the patient’s emotions.
The researchers note, “Evaluation and validation of the outcomes associated with implementing the 5 practices is needed, along with system-level interventions to create a supportive environment for implementation.”