The quality of patient-nurse interaction can significantly define the overall patient outcomes. As stated by Nilsen et al., “the use of verbal and nonverbal interaction behaviors can help establish a synergistic care relationship between nurses and patients.” Therefore, it is essential to pay attention to both verbal and nonverbal communication cues to achieve better care results.
In my practice, I observed many times that the quality of interaction determines a practitioner’s ability to obtain personal and health-related information from their patients, the level of patients’ trust in a care provider and their recommendations, and the overall degree of satisfaction with received medical services. When a nurse fails to find the right approach to interaction with diverse patients, they may become unwilling to disclose all important information and feel misunderstood. In some cases, it can lead to inadequate adherence to prescribed interventions and, consequently, poor health outcomes.
The overall style of communication is probably especially important to establish trust with patients. As noted by Cherry and Jacob, assertive communication is the healthiest style because “assertive individuals pronounce their basic rights without violating the rights of others.” It implies a fair degree of honesty and directness, as well as respect towards collocutors and orientation towards achieving mutually beneficial solutions. At the same time, non-verbal communication style is important as well. To build a trustful dialogue with a patient, the overall facial expression should convey friendliness. For instance, in my practice, I find at least a slight smile always helpful, whereas the emotionless expression usually contributes to a greater psychological distance between me and my patients. I also noticed that a lot of patients perceive short, direct eye contact as a sign of attentiveness. However, I realize that in some cultures, people regard direct eye contact as unacceptable and, thus, it may deteriorate the quality of patient-nurse interaction. Overall, it means that an individualized approach to building patient relationships is required. In either way, responsiveness to context and patient situations is key to ensure better communication and health outcomes.