Misunderstandings in Interpersonal and Inter-Professional Communication and their Impact On Health Outcomes and Patient Safety

Nabi Fatahi
2019 Archives of Clinical and Medical Case Reports  
Since clinical health communication is the basic stage in the process of diagnosis and treatment, adequate clinical interaction is essential between patients and healthcare providers, as well as between the clinicians involved. The healthcare communication modes that are the focus of this study are interpersonal and inter-professional encounters, which in both cases involve both oral and written communication. This paper will review the literature on factors influencing clinical encounters and
more » ... heir impact on health outcomes and patient safety. Inadequate oral and written communication leads to misunderstanding in clinical encounters, which causes patient insecurity. In addition to language and culture, as the main factors that influence communication outcome, professionalism, caring attitudes, time, respect and openness are additional factors that are frequently mentioned in this context. Oral communication between healthcare providers may be performed directly or through a third person (interpreter) who facilitates encounters in cases of a language barrier between patient and the caregiver. Mutual understanding in both interpersonal and inter-professional communication is very important for quality health care and patient satisfaction. Written misunderstandings are more visible in inter-professional encounters, whereas in interpersonal communication oral misunderstandings are more frequent. Cultural misunderstandings in clinical encounters may be rooted in individual, organizational or ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The last will be in focus in this study. Due to the importance of communication as the fundamental stage in diagnosis and treatment procedures, it is vital to prevent misunderstandings in communication between patients and caregivers during clinical encounters as well as between the clinicians involved. Clinical health communication Despite differences in the definition of health communication because of its multidisciplinary nature, its role concerning health outcomes in both individual and public health seems to be common to most definitions [1]. Health communication offers a unique opportunity to healthcare professionals to provide an expressive contribution to improving and saving human lives [2]. Healthcare communication usually occurs at two levels, interpersonal and inter-professional, which both involve oral as well as written communications. Due to inequality in power and situations, clinical health communication is quite different from other types of human communication. Healthcare providers have the opportunity to decide about communication, where test results (diagnosis) are an obvious issue in this inequality of power in clinical health communication. Thus, efforts to minimize the factors that have an negative effect on clinical communication may have an important impact on the communication outcome [1]. Since the health communication theory moved away from the Shannon-Weaver linear model of communication and focused on Gamer's "Circularity of the process of understanding" a meaningful concept has been provided, particularly regarding clinical health communication [4, 5] .
doi:10.26502/acmcr.96550138 fatcat:e5jvckwvlfh5phfv67jprwb7ju