inseparable in the total communication process. Conscious awareness of this aspect is extremely important for the health care provider whose professional effectiveness is highly dependent upon successful communication.
Ineffective communication occurs when obstacles or barriers are present. These barriers can be classified as physiological, physical, or psychosocial. Physiological barriers are those that result from some kind of sensory dysfunction on the part of either the sender or the receiver. Such things as hearing impairments, speech defects, and even vision problems influence the effectiveness of communication. Physical barriers consist of elements in the environment (such as noise) that frequently contribute to the development of physiological barriers (such as inability to hear). The final kind of obstacle, called psychosocial barriers, are usually the result of ones inaccurate perception of self or others, the presence of some defense mechanism an individual employs to cope with some form of threatening anxiety, or factors such as age, education, culture, language, nationality, and a multitude of other socioeconomic factors. This last category of barriers is the most difficult to identify and the most common cause of communication failure or breakdown.
Listening is a critical element of the communication process and becomes a primary activity for the health care provider who must use communication as a tool for collecting or giving information. When one is engaged in listening, it is important to direct attention to both the verbal and nonverbal cues provided by the other person. Like many other skills necessary for providing a health care service, the skill of listening requires conscious effort and constant practice. Listening skill can be improved and enhanced by developing the following attitudes and skills:
As a health care provider, you will be using the communication process to service a consumers needs. Briefly, these needs can be classified as either short-term or long-term. To simplify this discussion, short-term needs of communication will be discussed under the heading of contact point. Long-term needs will be discussed under the heading of therapeutic communications. CONTACT POINT To provide you with a frame of reference for the following discussion, the following definitions will clarify and standardize some critical terms:
The contact point person has certain criteria to meet in establishing a good relationship with the patient. Helping the patient through trying experiences is partially the responsibility of all contact point personnel. Such health care providers must not only have skills related to their professional assignment, but they must also have the ability to interact in a positive, meaningful way to communicate concern and the desire to provide a service.
Consumers of health care services expect to be treated promptly, courteously, and correctly. They expect their care to be personalized and communicated to them in terms they understand. The Navy health care system is a service system, and it is the responsibility of every health care provider to improve the professional nature of the system.
The significance of the contact point and the responsibility of the personnel staffing these areas are important to emphasize. The following message from a former Surgeon General of the