Psychology in Respiratory Therapy When I decided I wanted to be a respiratory therapist, I never imagined that I would be dealing with any psychological aspects. As I have learned more about the respiratory system and the patients that I will treat, I can see that I will deal with some psychological factors quite often. In respiratory therapy there are psychological factors that can affect a person’s ability to breath and their quality of breathing. A range of emotional factors including fear, stress, anxiety, and pain can affect a person’s ability to breathe correctly and efficiently.
The healthcare environment involves a considerable amount of stress and anxiety. Patients often demonstrate fear for their own well- being or that of their family members. The stress of upcoming surgeries or the news of a chronic illness will often affect patients. “In a study of patients diagnosed…[t]he most frequent responses were shock (54%), fright (46%), acceptance (40%), sadness (24%), and “not worried” (15%)” (“Enhancing physician-patient communication,” 2012).
The percentages just listed can ultimately lead to a high percentage of patients that may experience trouble breathing in response to the delivery of unfavorable news from their doctors. With my knowledge of psychology I can help to remove some of the fear and anxiety of some of my patients. For example, a patient who has just been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) may be very upset and frightened that their quality of life will be diminished.
I can however help the patient cope by expressing the positive results that can come from pulmonary rehabilitation. I can focus the patient on overcoming the obstacles that lay ahead, instead of focusing on the negatives, which may lead to depression and/or other medical complications. Not only will I deal with patients who have received unfavorable news, but I will also have to understand how each individual patient will understand or comprehend what I tell them, when it comes to their treatment(s). Compliance depends on understanding the use of a medication and the importance of staying on it, as well as communication between doctors and patients about side effects and effectiveness…[i]f patients find value in a treatment, they will comply”(“Enhancing physician-patient communication,” 2012). This category may deal with patients who have had brain injuries, elderly patients who don’t understand what I say but are ashamed to speak up, or patients who are under anesthesia or mind altering medications.
I must acquire the ability to properly teach effective techniques without insulting my patients’ intelligence. I also have to understand things such as: I cannot properly educate a patient to use respiratory equipment immediately after they come out of surgery and are still affected by anesthesia; I have to be able to recognize if a patient will have the hand, eye, breath coordination to use different types of inhalers; I will need to be aware of patients’ activities in their daily lives and which respiratory device will least impede their quality of life.
One of the first topics covered in the respiratory program was professionalism and interaction, or bedside manner, with patients. We were told that for some reason patients will often open up to us unlike they do with their doctors and/or nurses. “One study showed that patients value good bedside manner and listening skills more than clinical competence… good bedside manner has also been implicated in improving overall health status…This increased significance has been related to the fact that the customers must bare themselves both physically and emotionally” (Person & Finch, 2009).
With a little knowledge of psychology I will be better able to help comfort patients emotionally which is very important because a happy patient is less likely to have anxiety induced respiratory problems, which ultimately means less work per patient and allows more time for other patients. A big part of being a respiratory therapist is having empathy. I need to empathize with a patient so that I may be able to understand their feeling of discomfort coming from their fear of not being able to breath.
There are many studies that show, “[p]atients who feel they are listened to and are comfortable are less likely to develop complications or need readmission, according to case studies from the U. S. ”(Hope, 2011). Contact Person: Ms. ABC Specialization: Respiratory Therapist Responses received May, 2 2012 The interview with Ms. ABC was conducted via email. Ms. ABC asked that the name of her employer remain anonymous. I emailed Ms. ABC 3 questions and received a response approximately 3 weeks later.
Due to time constraints I had no further communication with Ms. ABC. I first asked Ms. ABC how often she deals with or has seen respiratory patients with anxiety. Her response was as follows: “All the time. You would be very surprised at the amount of respiratory distress episodes that occur from anxiety. There are a great number of patients who are admitted through the emergency department that have simply hyperventilated because their mother-in-law is coming to visit, or their daughter is dating a much older man.
Not only do I see patients who have respiratory issues from anxiety, but you also have those that are flip-flopped. Many of the patients we treat who are already hospitalized can develop anxiety, depression, and sometimes even rage after a chronic diagnosis. A big part of my job is helping patients through these tough situations and ensuring that they understand how to better take care of themselves. ” Next I asked Ms. ABC if she believed bedside manners help when it comes to patient outcomes. Her response was as follows: “Absolutely.
The respiratory therapy field has a good reputation when it comes to patient satisfaction. You would be amazed at the trust built between an RT and a patient simply from us doing our job and enabling them to breathe. In my opinion, patients also feel more comfortable with us, rather than doctors or nurses, because we normally take our time with treatments. There are several treatments such as chest physiotherapy, nebulizer treatments, and incentive spirometry that can take up to 30 minutes to perform.
During this time we are able to talk with the patient and explain why and what we are doing for them. It is through simple communication that patients develop trust and respect for us. An important thing to remember is this: if you take your time with your patient and make sure they are well-educated when it comes to using their respiratory equipment, they are much more likely to comply with treatment plans. This ensures the patients’ chances for a healthier life, decreases E. R. visits, and it also lowers health care costs across the board. Lastly I asked Ms. ABC if there was any aspect of her job in which she felt that there was some use of psychology. Her response was as follows: “When I first thought about this question I didn’t think there was any aspect that outweighed the others, psychologically. After some thought I decided that I myself have to use psychology very often, usually in the form of critical thinking. When trying to diagnose a patient, or educate a patient, or give therapy to a patient, there are many things that go awry.
When this happens you really have to dig deep. You have to get to the “why’s” of people’s underlying problems. You may not always agree with them, but you have to find a way to understand what the patient may be going through. One example was a patient I had; she was very old and sweet. She had just had hip replacement surgery and was required by her doctor to pass on her incentive spirometry trials before she would be discharged. Every time I visited this patient she would do well with her incentive spirometry.
However, when the nurse came to evaluate her abilities she did not do well. After a lot of investigation I finally realized that she had no one at home to help her, or to conversate with, ultimately she was lonely. She didn’t want to leave the hospital because she enjoyed the company and the comfort of others taking care of her. I finally let her know that she would be transferred to a rehabilitation facility and after that she would have occupational therapists come to her home to help get her quality of life back to its level before surgery.
Her eyes brightened at this news and she ended up being discharged the next day. No matter what, you have to have empathy in almost any healthcare position, and you have to try to understand patients. Not one of us is made the same, so none of us react the same. ” After conducting this interview and comparing it to my literature review and information learned in school, I can definitely see the link between respiratory therapy and psychology. Everything that Ms.
ABC relayed to me went along with the literature review that I conducted. There are definitely ties between treating patients with respect, listening to their needs, and being their advocate that lead to improved health and health care for patients. I am constantly amazed at how much psychology plays a role in our everyday lives. I am now certain that no matter where I go with my degree, I will always have to use psychology in dealing with patients. References Person, A. , & Finch, L. (2009).
Bedside manner: Concept analysis and impact on advanced nursing practice. American Society of Hematology, 10. Retrieved from website: http://asheducationbook. hematologylibrary. org/content/2002/1/464. full Hope, J. (2011). Good bedside manners help patients get better faster… and saves hospitals money as well. Associated Newspaper Ltd. Retrieved from http://www. dailymail. co. uk/health/article-1344454/Good-bedside-manners-help- patients-better-faster–saves-hospitals-money-well. html