Academic journal article Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology

Being A Humane Mental Health Professional

Academic journal article Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology

Being A Humane Mental Health Professional

Article excerpt

This article aspires to motivate counsellors to pay special attention to ingredients of effective counselling. It focuses on three aspects of healing relationship. These are: empirical work on bedside manners in the current Western medical practice, desirable Physician qualities in the Indian Indigenous health systems and an illustrative narrative of an effective healer.

Empirical Work on Bedside Manners

Bedside manner in the current medical practice is a rarity. Old fashioned general practitioners are a disappearing breed, yet the family practice in some countries recognises the benefits of the system. However, a review of this is necessary, as the soft skills that are naturally embedded in bedside manners that are equally essential to all kinds of effective counselling.

Researchers at the McGill University have developed a screening tool for screening and evaluating a young physician's bedside manners (Dwyer et al 2014). The study involving orthopaedic residents examined how they handled suspected cases of domestic violence, their ability to manage the operating room and how they communicated with the patients' disgruntled family regarding delays in surgery. The examination called Objective Structure Clinical Examination (OSCE) was composed of 10 minutes simulation situations with scenarios based on real life situations. It tested six soft skills or CanMeds competencies required to be effective physicians. These were: communicator, collaborator, manager, health advocate, scholar and professional. According to Dwyer, one cannot be a good doctor if one cannot effectively communicate with patients, their families and functions as a health advocate by persuading the patient to adopt healthier life styles. The physician collaborates with the patient to improve the quality of care and manages the team of health workers to work in tandem. He also needs to be competent in his field and have integrity in his professional conduct. The students found that the tool was effective in providing understanding of the required soft skills. The tool can also be used for other specialities.

Client Dissatisfaction

Complaint prone doctors can be identified before complaints occur. A small group (3%) of doctors accounts for half of all patients' complaints against doctors. A three years study in Melbourne reports 19,000 complaints against 11,000 doctors over a decade (Bismark et al., 2013). Other risk factors are gender and speciality. However, prevention is possible in this risk.

Getting sued for malpractice is very common in the developed nations. It leads to 'defensive medicine' where more tests procedures and visits are ordered. It has been found that if the physicians explained more and related empathically to the patients, the complaints and legal issues would reduce much. Financial gains are reported only in about 25% cases where legal recourse is taken. Carrol (2015) recommends that "to be sued less, doctors should consider talking to the patients more".

In a study (Ring, 2016) in Mass General hand surgery by orthopaedic surgeons, 65% of the patients satisfaction was observed to be linked to patient-perceived physician's empathy, apart from other factors including surgical skills of the surgeons. Enhanced rate of increased compliance and speedy recovery have been reported when empathic bond prevails between the physician and the client.

In an one-year study on nursing care of the elderly (Kostovich & Clementi 2014), empathizing and compassion in nursing orientation leads to lesser and fewer falls, pressure ulcers and also results in higher patient satisfaction.

Patient Physician Communication

The Tamblyn (2007) study at McGill University that followed up 3,424 physicians who were tested for clinical skills between the years 1993-1996, revealed that the higher the scores, less likely was getting complaints. Expression of empathy as a tool is an ability to understand the other person's experience, to communicate, to confirm it with the other person, and then to act in a helpful manner. …

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