Types of patients encountered in medical practice: Guest blogger Dr. Shalini Ratan

Every patient is UNIQUE. Reason being:

  • Patients are all people, with individual differences
  • The same treatments and actions may not work for every patient
  • Some patients may interpret what you say to them in different ways

The Health Belief Model is a well researched description of patients’ beliefs about health and related matters. It has following elements:

  1. Health Motivation: It is about personal interest in their conditions and the readiness & motivation to bring change in their conditions.

    Health motivated patients expect to be considered as partners by their healthcare providers in the medical decision process. They show greater willingness to exercise accountability and responsibility for their own health care.

  2. Perceived Vulnerability: This relates to the degree to which they believe in the diagnosis and its possible consequences.

    These patients do not adhere to the proposed management plan until and unless they are convinced with the diagnosis made. It is based on their perceived thinking about their condition. Such patients need to be managed by the counseling ability of the medical practitioner.

  3. Perceived Seriousness: Patients vary in their beliefs about the consequences of contracting any illness or leaving it untreated.

    Such patients either are too anxious about getting a disease (eg: even minor skin blemishes can be related to be skin cancer by them), or they could be non-serious about their health, like a girl smoking at a young age and having the least concern about the harmful effects in her later years. This class of patients requires a paternalistic attitude by their physicians.

  4. Perceived risk & benefits: Patients weigh up advantages and disadvantages of taking any particular course of action.

    Here the patient would prevent himself from complying with the treatment because, in his own mind, the risk of treatment outweighs the benefits. Eg: The patient does not want to continue with the insulin therapy prescribed to him, assuming it could lead to drug dependence.

    The physician would need to engage this group of patients with a positive conversation, explaining to them the need for the treatment plan. They would also need to council these patients so that they can continue with the prescribed regimen without self-created notions.

Therefore, the patients require different communication styles depending...

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