Nonverbal Communication In Healthcare

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Nonverbal communication is used to express and communicate thoughts, feelings and emotions, to establish and maintain relationships and to influence others. It conveys messages that spoken words alone most often do not. In medical practice, it is very imperative in initiating and sustaining the healthcare professional (HCP) - client relationship and has the capacity to affect the clients adherence to treatment.
Healthcare professional’s nonverbal behavior influences the clients nonverbal behavior. Researchers say that patients tend to mirror affiliative behaviors in the physician (e.g. gazing, facing orientation) and that interactional synchrony between the patient and physician with regard to non verbal behavior is associated with more interactional
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It begins as the healthcare provider reads the clients non verbal cues and also when the client does likewise. For example, as a patient with a disability affecting the legs, who is using crutches to aid in movement enters the physician’s room, the physician is able to observe the patients body movement and have a clue to the patients complaint. In fact, it is generally accepted that 70% of communication is non verbal, 23% involves tone of voice, and only 7% of communication occurs by chosen words.
Unspoken messages can alter the linguistic messages. They can augment or complement the spoken words. For example, a physician who holds a patients hand while assuring them about the status of their health. The patient will perceive it as care and concern, thereby making it easier for them to believe the physicians verbal
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Facial expressions include smiling, frowning, eye rolling, eye contact, scowling, and appearing bored or interested. In medical practice, facial expressions are important in establishing and maintaining a mutual relation and rapport due to their feeling-revealing property. For example, a doctor who smiles and looks at the patient while taking medical history will enhance interactional comfort where the patient feels at ease and free to talk about their personal problems. Gaze patterns also regulate conversations.
Personal space
This is the area immediately surrounding an individual, sometimes described as an imaginary “bubble”. Most people are very aware of others in “their space”, and many require the area to remain relatively clear in order to feel at ease. In healthcare setting this space is very delicate because in many clinical settings it tends to be breached. For example for a surgeon to perform a procedure known as Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) for incomplete abortions, the patients will be required to be naked in theatre.
The way someone stands, sits or lies down (Merriam-Webster dictionary). A position in which a clinical officer leans slightly towards a person shows interest, care, acceptance and
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