Broaching Sensitive Topics with Members

Broaching Sensitive TopicsSome patients may be reluctant to share problems they perceive as embarrassing because they think that bringing these topics up may alter their relationship with you, take too much time to address or inconvenience you. What happens is that problems that could be resolved remain untreated. Some issues that fall into this category include:

  • Incontinence that may keep patients homebound or lead to falls at night as a result of frequently getting up to use the bathroom
  • Vision disturbances that could also result in falls
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Chronic pain that may limit physical movement and affect a member’s emotional and cognitive health

Open the door to an honest discussion by implementing the following:

  • Post information regarding sensitive topics in the waiting room
  • Include sensitive topics on the closed circuit TVs in the waiting room
  • Send the member leaflets or checklists with information in advance of an office visit
  • Have the nurse pre-screen a member during the initial intake prior to seeing you
  • Listen to your patients’ concerns and show ongoing respect for what they have to say
  • Engage your patients in decisions about their health
  • Explain things in a way that is easy for patients to understand
  • Provide a written summary of what transpired during the visit and next steps including follow-up appointments
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