Patient Engagement Requires Attitude Shift Toward "Difficult" Patients

A cultural shift in healthcare is needed to see "difficult" patients as an opportunity for engagement and shared decision-making instead of a nuisance, according to a commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The desire to be a "good" patient and clinicians' encouragement of this behavior inhibits engagement and collaboration in care. Patients and their family members may be hesitant to speak up to physicians and other clinicians to avoid being perceived as "difficult" — someone who interferes and continually questions authority.

The author calls for an attitude change toward so-called difficult patients and family members. "Culturally, we could benefit from a lens shift toward seeing more-vocal patients and families as actively engaged in their healthcare, presenting new, potentially important information, and expressing unmet care needs," she wrote.

More Articles on Patient Engagement:

Reengineering the Patient Experience Through Standardization
Patient Safety Tool: Leadership Guide for Patient, Family Engagement
Patient Safety Tool: Working With Family Caregivers Toolkit

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