Patients Are Often More Engaged In Their Health Than Providers Think

This post rang particularly true for me – both as a patient myself (who isn’t from time to time?!) as a clinician involved in helping people develop self management (which includes health literacy), and finally, as a researcher looking at the ways people who are resilient despite their chronic pain cope with their health condition. Whew! Sorry for the long sentence!
I don’t know that I completely agree that patient engagement isn’t for health care providers, because plenty of people are ambivalent about enacting their good intentions. This is where what we do counts most. Listening, helping establish what is important to the person, then supporting them to “take the next best step” for their health. This might mean giving them a call a couple of days later to see how they’re getting on, helping them set specific actions to take (time, date, what, when, where), and then reviewing how this is working some time in the future. Being proactive.

Mind The Gap

Patients often don’t get the respect they deserve. Take the subject of patient engagement.  Just about everywhere you turn in the health care literature these days we are told how physicians and other providers need to do a better job getting patients involved in their own health.

But is that really their role?

Patient Engagement Is Not The Job Of Health Care Providers

Why?  Because by the time a person (aka patient) presents for care in the primary care physician’s office…they are already engaged in their own care to some degree…albeit now necessarily in the way providers expect.   Here’s what I mean.

People consult with their doctor when they have a need or concern which they believe needs to be addressed.  Often times before they make an appointment to see the doctor, people will do their own home work to see if a doctor’s appoint is really necessary.   Many of us…

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  1. dis-repecting..dis-missive will take must be one of the few it hasn’t worked for you”. I was also told by my surgeon that ” I must have a low pain threshold! I founf that dismissive in the least and insulting at the most. I am still in the same pain I was 22 months ago….is this my lot..I Do excercise…meditation..try to do some walking…I am not sure what else I can do!!

    Yes I am angry…frustrated…need a decent nights sleep..feelong the loss of my inability do be what I was…all those things..but I am still in pain!!!!

    Sorry just needed to sound off..


  2. Thanks for this post adiemusfree – I’ve commented on the original site also. I was reminded of some reading I did around self-management of chronic conditions (not just pain) whre the aithor stated something like “patients are already self-managing” – the way they are doing it may not be serving them in the best way but they ARE dong it, to the best of their ability”. I think coaching is so helpful here, starting where the person’s concerns are and working outwards. Many years ago I worked with people with severe and enduring mental illnesses who weren’t ‘engaging’ with services – not attending appts, not taking medication, going in and out of hospital as a result and struggling to maintain their life roles. We didn’t start with any of these things when working to engae them – we started with do they need a fridge, or some food, or do they wnt to get a bike, or whatever was a priority for them. Over time they were able to take o board that dealig with some medcal issues might help them deal with thesethinghs also. Not sure that’s the same thing but it came to mind!

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