Giving an Explanation
Your technique when explaining topics to patients, on the wards or in an OSCE, can greatly affect their perception and recall of information. A structured approach with appropriate opportunities for the patient to ask questions is vital for a patient to make appropriate choices with regards to their health, and will limit any communication and distress over miscommunication.
- Introduce Self
- "Hello, I'm John, a medical student..."
- Confirm patient name and date of birth.
- Build rapport with the patient. Avoid using platitudes.
- Explain purpose
- "I've been asked to explain to you..."
- Assess how much they have already been told by other staff, and how much they know of the situation
- "Has anyone talked to you about this procedure before?"
- "Do you know why this procedure is important?"
Throughout the meeting
- Elicit ICE
- What would you like to see happen with this procedure?
- Is there anything that you're worried about?
- What impact will this have on your life?
- Maintain open, empathic communication
- Ensure the patient can always ask questions
- Don't assume any understanding. Always be ready to explain any part of the procedure.
- Measure your patient's existing knowledge of the subject
- "So how much do you know already about...?"
- Set the agenda with the patient
- "I'm going to discuss a few details of the procedure, but is there anything in particular you'd like to know about?"
- Begin explanation
- Consider signposting to set the agenda- "I'm going to give you an overview, then talk about the procedure, then any risks involved"
- Avoid Jargon
- Chunk and check- give information in small chunks, and then check their understanding.
- Check understanding- ask patient a question at this point
- "Just so that I can check I've got everything across, can you tell me about this procedure?"
- Summarise the discussion- think bullet points.
- Give appropriate supporting literature (leaflet). Offer someone the patient can direct any further questions to.