Reconnecting Practicing Hygienists with the Nation's Leading Educators and Researchers.

Developing Effective Patient Communication

For patients who only understand a portion of the information provided by health care professionals, it is nearly impossible to take medications properly, access appropriate services, and obtain accurate diagnoses. Language barriers and poor health literacy can contribute to communication breakdowns between clinicians and patients. We need to be prepared to overcome such issues in order to provide the best care possible and achieve positive outcomes.

Improving Patient Understanding

For patients who only understand a portion of the information provided by health care professionals, it is nearly impossible to take medications properly, access appropriate services, and obtain accurate diagnoses. Language barriers and poor health literacy can contribute to communication breakdowns between clinicians and patients. We need to be prepared to overcome such issues in order to provide the best care possible and achieve positive outcomes.

Photo Credit: zorandimzr/ISTOCK/GETTY IMAGES PLUS

Language Barriers

Using language interpretation services when caring for communities in need is vital because approximately 25.9 million or 8.6% of people in the United States speak or understand English with limited proficiency. Limited English proficiency refers to individuals age 5 and older who report speaking English language less than “very well.” We are likely to see patients whose first language or the language spoken at home is something other than English.

Photo Credit: aywan88/E+

Informed Decision Making

Understanding the information provided by health care providers is a basic human need. The American Dental Hygienists’ Association’s Code of Ethics recommends that dental hygienists provide patients with adequate information to make informed decisions about their oral health. Patients who do not understand their treatment options are unable to make informed decisions. Consenting is more than just a formal written legal process, but rather ensuring patients understand the risks and benefits of both accepting and declining treatment.

Photo Credit: asiseeit/E+

Finding Translator Services

The effective use of an interpreter begins by first identifying the need for such services. Assessing how well a patient can speak and understand English is the first step. The easiest barrier to identify is a complete language barrier. This results when communication is not possible due to the severity of language discordance. Once the need for interpreter services has been determined, a trained or certified interpreter should be sought. When given a choice, most patients prefer the use of professional interpreters to the use of friends, family, untrained staff, or minor children.

Photo Credit: asiseeit/E+

Eliminate Health Disparities

One strategy to help eliminate health disparities is to use plain language, which is language that is easily understood the first time it is read or heard. Plain language should be used in both oral and written materials. Jargon and technical terms should be avoided. If technical terms must be used, they should be first defined in simple language. Educational materials should be tested before, during, and after they are dispersed. When developing educational material, the information should be organized first by stating a document’s purpose and following with the most important information.

Photo Credit: danchooalex/E+

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.