A recent survey about pain management indicated that 67 percent of healthcare professionals would welcome patients arriving at their appointments with notes and questions. Unfortunately 48 percent of patients do not bring notes or questions to their appointments. Learning to direct conversations about pain effectively will help you compile a clearer picture of your patients’ needs.
Allow them to Participate
Many healthcare professionals get so caught up in their own questionnaires they drive the conversation and do not allow their patients to participate effectively. Your patient may have come to see you with some goals in mind regarding their pain and what they are hoping to accomplish with treatment. Allow them to participate in the conversation by offering questions that direct them down this road so they can provide this information more easily. Consider asking questions such as “Is there anything specific you wish to accomplish through your treatment?” or “Do you have any concerns or questions regarding your last appointment?” This will let your patient know you want to work with them to overcome their specific challenges and meet their pain management goals. Encourage them to ask questions by stopping after you have explained something about their treatment. Watch for cues they seem anxious or confused and ask if everything is okay. As well try to avoid steering away from something they are telling you. It is easy to be so focused on your own questions that you redirect the conversation and miss important information your patient is trying to share.
Encourage Continued Care with Next Steps
You want to encourage a continuous care treatment plan with your patients and the best way to encourage them to continue with their care is to involve them with the decisions. After you review the treatment plan with your patient it is important to continue to provide input about next steps and the stages of care. Be certain that you encourage them to share information about their experiences following their last treatment and provide them some time to discuss improvements or set backs. By doing so they will feel more in control of their treatment and also feel you are validating their input. Following each appointment inform patients of what will take place at their next appointment. As well if a patient shared a concern with you at the beginning of the appointment explain that you applied less pressure or avoided the tender area and you would like to see if this makes a difference from the last appointment. Let them know how they can reach you if they have concerns. Keep pamphlets in your treatment room and provide them when appropriate. All of these steps will involve your patient in their own treatment and let them know you are listening to their needs and meeting them as best you can. Explaining why they may have pain following treatment as well as what to expect will set their mind’s at ease. This will keep them on track with treatment instead of getting discouraged and discontinuing care.
Recommend a Pain Journal
Pain in some cases can be intense yet fleeting. This means it is hard for patients to communicate effectively about pain and how it is affecting their day to day life. One of the best recommendations you can make to your patients is to keep a pain journal. Have them record intensity of pain, what they were doing when the pain occurred and how long it lasts. Also have them indicate how it affected them i.e. was able to carry on or was unable to move comfortably for the rest of the day. This will help you work together to pinpoint key issues and come up with a more comprehensive treatment plan to lead them to a pain-free life.