Communication & Medicine, Vol 9, No 1 (2012)

The person in the room: How relating holistically contributes to an effective patient-care provider alliance

Leslie A. Penner, Kerstin Roger
Issued Date: 19 Feb 2013


The purpose of this paper is to explore how relating to the ‘whole’ person – both the physical body and the invisible aspects of the ‘self’ – is essential in the establishment of a strong therapeutic alliance between patients and health care providers. Our work is based on interviews conducted with individuals affected by neurological illnesses (patients and family care providers). Hsieh and Shannon’s (2005) conventional content analysis was used to analyze the data. Under the broad theme of ‘maintaining a coherent sense of self’ we identified four distinct sub-themes related to interactions with health care providers. The results elucidate the more complex and deep needs of patients who must access care on an ongoing basis, and highlight the important role that care providers play in supporting individuals who are experiencing physical, spiritual and social losses. Care must attend to the deep needs of these individuals by communicating in a style that addresses both emotional and cognitive needs of patients, by thorough and holistic assessment and by appropriate referrals.

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DOI: 10.1558/cam.v9i1.49


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