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Barriers to Effective Communication in Healthcare

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    Barriers to Effective Communication in Healthcare

    February 26, 2012

    The purpose of this project is to review the barriers that exist in the healthcare industry when it comes to effective communication. Barriers are the factors that hinder or disrupt the flow of communication in one direction or the other. These barriers include but are not limited to cultural differences, differences in languages, and low health literacy.

    Research suggests that the use of unexplained medical terminology can be a huge barrier to effective communication in clinical encounters, which leads to unnecessary patient anxiety and potentially poorer health outcomes (Koch-Weser, DeJong & Rudd, 2009).

    The Research Question for this study is: What necessary steps are being taken throughout the health care industry to alleviate communication gaps between health care professionals and their patients?

    Barriers to Effective Communication in Health Care

    Communication plays an important role in patient safety, quality of care and patients’ rights. Barriers to heath care are obstacles within our health care system which prevents patients who are vulnerable from obtaining needed health care due to geographic barriers, cultural barriers, socioeconomic barriers, organizational barriers, and a combination of these issues. A barrier, as used throughout this paper, will pertain to the restricted use of health services.

    If a patient’s health beliefs or expectations are not in line with what their health care provider proposes, they may very well experience barriers to the benefits of health services. The use of health services will be defined as the process of seeking and submitting oneself to the application of regular, professional health services, with the sole purpose to prevent or treat a health problem. In this paper we will focus on the barriers that may hinder an individual’s ability to obtain the best possible health care treatment.

    Review of Literature
    In today’s society one of the main topics of discussion is health care and the affect that it has on our country. However in the midst of things, we tend to forget about so many other things that keep patients from receiving the adequate care in which they deserve. Geographical Barriers

    A classis geographic barrier is the issue of being in a rural area where there are not many health care professionals. When we look at physicians, the majority of them choose to practice in suburban or urban communities. Other geographical barriers come into play when things like doctor’s offices, health care systems and hospital are not located on bus routes or provide adequate parking. The lack of childcare in most healthcare facilities also creates a geographical access barrier due to there being no one available to provide care for children while health care is rendered to an ill adult. Cultural Barriers

    Cultural beliefs about health and disease can create barriers. The disparity in health status and the access to care that exists between Anglo and minority populations in the United States has been a recognized problem since the early 1960s.

    Individual values, beliefs, and behaviors about well-being and health are shaped by factors such as race, nationality, language, ethnicity, gender, physical, socioeconomic and sexual orientation, mental ability and occupation. The goal of culturally competent health care is to provide the highest quality of care to every patient, regardless of race, cultural background, ethnicity, English proficiency or literacy. Some of the common strategies for improving institutionalizing changes in the health care system consist of recruiting and retaining minority staff, providing interpreter services, coordinating with traditional healers, using community health workers, expanded hours of operation, providing training to increase cultural awareness, knowledge, and skills. As well as providing linguistic competency that extends beyond the clinical encounters to the appointment desk, medical billing, advice lines and other written materials.

    The understanding of cultural diversity in healthcare dispels many misunderstandings and conflicts that can arise between the physician and their patient, leading to reduced legal disputes. When the doctor understands the needs of the patients and the patients follows the treatment and gets well, knowledge of cultural diversity is a win-win situation for everybody. Socioeconomic Barriers

    According to the Census Bureau, in 2011 there were 49.9 million people who lacked health insurance. If you have insurance, you are paying about 17% more to help offset the costs for those who are uninsured. According to a 2003 Institute of Medicine Report, about 18,000 deaths occur in the United States simply because people do not have insurance, they do not have access to care.

    The consumption of health care is often very expensive and time consuming. Fees normally consist of the unofficial charge (co-payments), the official user fee (office visit), cost of time spent waiting for care to be rendered, cost of time spent consuming care, and distance cost for travel to reach the health care facility.

    The socioeconomic barriers to health care can be traced back to the divide between urban and rural, with a substantial economic disparity. Organizational Barriers

    The lack of a translator/ translated information and educative, informative materials can be a hindrance on patients who do not speak the native language; particularly where education and information are critical for the needs of survival. Information and education with regard to minority patients must take into account the varying levels of literacy and the different expressions with the subgroups of those ethnic minorities.

    It must also acknowledge any traditional practices while explaining technical procedures and their rationale, address any concerns that the patient may have and most importantly inform them of their legal rights. Combination of Issues

    Many of these healthcare barriers are universal problems that can afflict all of us at any given time. Long waiting lists, hinder patients from using services in which they are entitled to. Conclusion

    This review has the potential to raise awareness about a few potential barriers that exist throughout the healthcare industry, with the hopes of transparency. In conclusion, there are many potential barriers of which are tied to ethnic minorities as well as the working uninsured. Each and every barrier is tied to a particular situation of the patient and is subject to constant adjustment.

    Articles published from 1990 to 2011 were identified by searching electronic databases and selected through titles and abstracts. The articles were included if deemed to be relevant to the study of health care barriers and the different barriers in health care communication.

    Koch-Weser, S., DeJong, W., & Rudd, R. (2009). Medical word use in clinical encounters. Health Expectations, 12(4), 371-388.DOI: 10.1111/j.1369-7625.2009.00555.x. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Banja, J. D. (2007). My what? American Journal of Bioethics, 7(11), 13-15.DOI: 10.1080/15265160701638546. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. (2011). Staff told to use set clinical language. Nursing Standard, 25(51), 9-9. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Ahmed, S., Lemkau, J., Nealeigh, N., & Mann, B. (2001). Barriers to healthcare access in a non-elderly urban poor American population. Health and Social Care In The Community, 9(6), 445-453. DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2524.2001.00318.x. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Wood, J. T. (2004). Communication theories in action: An introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Celik, H; Abma, T.; Widdershoven, G.; van Wijmen, F C.B.;
    Klinge, L. Patient Education & Counseling, Apr2008, Vol. 71 Issue 1, p65-71, 7p; DOI: 10.1016/j.pec.2007.11.021. Ryan, S. (2009). Breaking down barriers part of health care reform. Nurse Practitioner, 34(12), 6-8. Sand-Jecklin, Kari. Journal of Community Health Nursing, Summer2007, Vol. 24 Issue 2, p119-129, 11p; DOI: 10.1080/07370010701316254. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Miller, Elissa. Nursing Standard, 9/22/2010, Vol. 25 Issue 3, p29-29, 2/3p. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Alexander, G. Caleb; Casalino, Lawrence P.; Tseng, Chien-Wen; McFadden, Diane; Meltzer, David O.. JGIM: Journal of General Internal Medicine, Aug2004, Vol. 19 Issue 8, p856-860, 5p; DOI: 10.1111/j.1525-1497.2004.30249.x. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

    The databases were search using keywords that covered the domain ‘health care barriers’, the domain ‘use’ (of effective health care communication) and the domain ‘minority communication barriers’

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