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Communication in a healthcare context 

Communication in a healthcare context
Chapter:
Communication in a healthcare context
Author(s):

Maria Flynn

, and Dave Mercer

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198743477.003.0006
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date: 14 October 2019

This chapter highlights the centrality of good communication in healthcare generally, and nursing practice in particular. It is proposed that language use needs to be understood as more than just a means of speaking to another person, or a group of people, about some aspect of the care process. Though this is important and essential to effective decision-making and nursing interventions, practitioners need to understand the political dimensions of talk as discourse, of how language plays a performative part in constructing, as well as describing, the social/clinical world. Attention is given to the damaging, as well as productive, attributes of communication—where the euphemistic concept of ‘empowerment’ has to be critically addressed and enacted. The contribution of humanistic psychology to nursing practice is discussed through the core conditions of person-centered working. Verbal and non-verbal skills and behaviours to enact an empathic, genuine, and unconditional foundation for care are outlined. Finally, specialist knowledge and skills, expressed through ‘family intervention’ therapy, locate communication within wider social relations.

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