Kindness Begins at Home

Diana Harbor, BA

Audiological Scientist & Speech and Language Therapist

The Ear Foundation Nottingham England

This week yet again I have been reminded of the very powerful force of kindness and its power source…the listening ear. Yesterday I had the privilege of being with a group of teenagers all living with hearing loss, using different technology from cochlear implants to bone implanted devices with different personalities and experiences of the world, some who had never met each other before. We all took part in an exciting improv, drama workshop at the Ear Foundation. Much of the afternoon was spent in small groups creating wonderful stories and weaving a single idea into a feast of creativity that JK Rowlings would have drooled at. And the real magic happened as Loydie, a DJ from Capital radio, revealed to us very simple techniques for keeping ideas going, for turning problems into new ideas and for getting the best out of each other. The power of using the phrase “…yes and” and how to do this while listening and maintaining eye contact.

The reason I’m sharing it here is I will be using it in practice and it was a light bulb moment for me. Well maybe that’s a bit dramatic but definitely some sparks and embers that I’m going to ruminate over and feed with other new ideas on the subject. So if you are partial to a camp fire…feel free to bring along your marshmallow on a stick and sit with me for a bit as I share with you what I’ve learnt.

The Power of “Yes and…”

“Yes and…” Ideas start to fly; we feel accepted and heard

In the improv workshop we all put the idea of “yes and…” into practice as we started a story with “let’s go to…”. As one teenager started with a single idea (“Let’s go to the beach”), his team mates were asked to reply with “yes and…”

Wow!! This simple phrase encouraged a wave of ideas from “yes and we could build a sand castle”, “yes and we could build it so high it reached into space”, “yes and we could eat our picnic on the moon”, “yes and we could discover a new specifies of plant life that ends world hunger” or “yes and we can ride in a Lamborghini with the top down.”

At the heart of “yes and …” lay the principles of listening first, starting from what was shared, then accepting and acknowledging the value of the idea offered and then moving it forward by sharing ourselves. We were all amazed how quickly our ideas flowed, how quickly we got to exciting places in our minds because the people around us were listening and affirming our ideas. When it worked well, we bonded quickly with our groups and we were sad to leave them as we moved into different groups. It feels so good to be looked at, heard and our ideas enjoyed.

Compare to the Impact of “Yes, but …”

“Yes but…” usually means “we can’t”

Loydie then asked us to try the exact same activity, but this time when ideas were shared around the group instead of saying “yes and…. ” we had to say “yes but…” Not to overuse the campfire metaphor but this equally succinct phrase was like pouring cold water on the fire, as ideas fizzled into soggy piles of embarrassment and stray sparks leapt up in defensiveness. Now all our energies were going into planning our negative responses, usually judgmental.  “Let’s go to the beach…” “yes but it looks like it might rain”, “yes but we could take umbrellas”, “yes but it’s windy too they won’t work”….You get the idea now …. Whereas before our conversations and ideas flowed in a safe circle of sharing and equal power, now we found ourselves feeling dismissed, having to force our ideas into the circle — and the quieter members of the group withdrew completely.

Now it turns out the “yes and” and the “yes but” have been used in business seminars for ages and are well-known concepts. This would explain some of the yawns I see around our campfire at the moment…. but if you, like me, had not seen its magic in action, grab another marshmallow and read on because it turns out we need to use it with our colleagues, and some wonderful research is happening related to this area.

Start Here

I thought about business meetings, team meetings and meetings with the families we work with. How often do I go in with a “yes but…” mindset instead of a “yes and…” one?  When it comes to working with the teenagers and families, I can say I am very mindful of my “yes and…” practice to make it person-centred, to guard against the terminator response. But back at work, in my team, am I as compassionate and kind? In our team meetings as we thrash out ideas for improving our service or in little discussions we had in the office? I found this such a challenge to really look at how I need to transform every aspect of my listening and responding in all areas of my life. Listening and responding with my third ear, as explained by the wonderful Dr Kris English, has to start very close to home, with me, in my team to grow compassion and in doing so encourage ideas and inspire success.

“Yes and” … is an EBP (Evidence-Based Practice)

Yes and some great research is showing that teams where kindness is abundant, where members are vigilant about taking care of each other are the groups that are the most innovative, successful and happy.

And this is not just about the workplace; it starts with our training. An article published by Dr Theo Gilbert from the University of Hertfordshire examined how the quality of compassion can be measured and more importantly accredited in university students. Yes you did read right, compassion….Hooray some common sense prevails!

The research looks at supporting students in the use of explicitly compassionate interactional strategies during their weekly seminar interactions. Exercises at the very start of seminar sessions made each member of the group think more carefully about their role in the group and how their behaviour could create negative or positive experiences for others in the group. Opportunities for thinking about positive behaviours on a group were encouraged, like initiating and sustaining ideas through eye contact and vocalisations. Results: quieter members of the groups found their voice; students who would normally monopolise discussions were more mindful of holding back; all students were sharing more and demonstrated a higher level of critical thinking too.

So whether you are an audiology student in weekly tutorials or a fully fledged professional in a clinic with monthly team meetings, remember we need to see these opportunities as times to practice and hone our skills for compassionate listening. See them as the playground for practising genuine curiosity about other people’s ideas and sensitivity towards those members who may need a bit more space and silence to share their views. Walking the walk of being family- and patient-centred, truly embodying the qualities of a professional who steps into the clinic or family’s home and coaches not cajoles, who listens with thinking of our next response, who live and breathe compassion and kindness.

Thanks you for reading on and listening and I wish all of us luck as we go forth and listen with our third ear and value and look forward to the responses of others.

As promised, the link to the research study:

http://www.herts.ac.uk/link/volume-2,-issue-1/assess-compassion-in-higher-education-how-and-why-would-we-do-that

How To Create Moral Distress: Compromise Values and Professional Ethics by Not Practicing Patient-Centred Care

Jeanine Doherty, Au.D., M.Phil., M.B.S, B.Soc.Sci.(Hons.), 

Hearing Excellence 

Christchurch, New Zealand

Trying to live up to a philosophical ideal of increasing the social, psychological, cultural and ethical sensitivity of our human encounters requires our personal, deliberate effort in an ongoing process. The action requires reflection, experience, introspection and the development of emotional quotient (EQ). It is not possible to complete a course about Patient-Centered Care (PCC) and think “Hey I can write on ‘Linked in’ now that I am a PCC clinician,” nor is it something that clinic owners should believe is ‘ticked off’ by sending their staff to a course.

While PCC is not yet fully conceptualised within audiology (although some essays on the topic are available), as Stewart (2001) wrote, we do know that PCC is not technology centred, not practitioner centred, not clinic centred and not disease centred. I believe PCC has to be lived in like it is your 2nd skin – our “thermals” as we would wear in a chilly southern New Zealand winter. PCC has to be infused, like ethics awareness, into all aspects of student training, as well as within the modus operandi of any practice arena.

Ethics, Legality, Morality

As we know, ethics, legality and morality are each different, though related, constructs. Something can be legal, yet immoral to an individual, as our values lead to our personal morals. Moral distress arises when clinicians are unable to act according to their moral judgement and their Profession’s Ethical Code (Rodney, 2017). This distress is located not only within individuals when their actions mismatch their values, but also from within the broader healthcare structures of the clinician’s workplace. The socio-political structures that can create moral/ethical distress have been studied mostly within nursing, but the relevance of the concept to audiology should not be ignored. Moral distress also emerges from situations that are against all the principles of PCC.

Harris and Griffin (2015) write that some organisational policies can lead to diminished care quality and cynicism with lack of teamwork and lower morale amongst clinical staff. In such a work-place, increased competition and mistrust develops between staff, while middle management level finds itself stuck between demands from higher-up levels (e.g. profit/cost outcomes) and the lack of teamwork and lower morale of the clinicians who are in moral distress. The physiological and psychological effects caused by the existence of moral distress can lead to burn-out, and then the staff member becomes ill, finds another better workplace, or just gives in, morally disengages, and carries on in a manner that is opposed to their values/morals (Musto, Rodney & Vanderheide, 2015). Lachman’s (2016) list of symptoms of burnout includes fatigue, general illness, headaches, insomnia, disillusionment, anger, negative self-concept and a loss of concern for others.

Profit vs Patient Outcomes

Losing sight of our professional focus

Increasingly reductionist demands for cost-effective and efficient healthcare results in imbalance, and increases the potential for conflicts of personal, professional and corporate values. In a system of ‘for-profit’ health care, the opportunities for patient manipulation and exploitation are endless, and the entry of vertical integration of the care (e.g., in the USA surgeons owning hospitals or dialysis centres) has not lowered prices or improved services,and this is due to the conflict of the ownership also having a shareholder expectation of profit growth (Andre & Velasquez, 1988). This conflict must be relevant to hearing aid service delivery as well, with hearing aid manufacturers owning hearing aid dispensing clinics and for any clinics incentivising their audiologists to sell – which can then lead to pressures to upsell and oversell, pressure felt within the audiologist personally to earn more, and/or by pressure from employers to do the same.

Andre and Velasquez (1988) add that institutions/corporations driven by fiscal and other non-health related issues can even manipulate clinician viewpoints by means such as incentivising positive corporate news like profit or sales growth, while ignoring or penalising negative outcomes in areas such as patient satisfaction. They can also adopt, as standard, approaches and methods that have no proper regard to patient outcomes. Have patients benefitted from the economies of scale that large for-profit service delivery should be able to make from centralising financing and management? Or does the corporate merely swallow the profit or spend it all on aggressive marketing like advertisement bombardments or cold-calling by call centre staff incentivised to “convert” respondents to appointments?

Responding to challenge with resilience

Summary

As a Profession, we must not allow important, yet fragile, virtues and ideals to be extinguished by the self-interest that drives any “for-profit” enterprise (Andre & Velasquez, 1988).There is a negative correlation (p < .001) between the existence of moral distress and workplace climates rated as ethical (Whitehead, et al., 2015).

Clinician Audiologists should not view themselves as victims of moral distress but rather as moral agents capable of responding positively and with moral resilience to the challenges they face personally and at an organisational level. Politically we should foster fair processes and intentionally cultivate our practice environments to become moral communities (Rodney, 2017) and become places where ethical values, like PCC, can drive our practice.

PCC enhances patient care, and that leads to better clinician satisfaction as there is less chance of moral distress. This results in better staff retention and so means less cost to employers – it seems a win-win-win scenario to me.

 REFERENCES

Andre, C. & Velasquez, M. (1988). A healthy bottom line: profits or people? Issues in Ethics, 1(4).

Harris, C. & Griffin, M.T. (2015). Nursing on empty: compassion fatigue signs, symptoms, and system interventions. Journal of Christian Nursing, 32(2), 80-87.

Lachman, V.D. (2016). Compassion fatigue as a threat to ethical practice: identification, personal and workplace/management strategies. Ethics, Law, and Policy, 25(4), 275-278.

Musto, L.C., Rodney, P.A. & Vanderheide, R. (2015). Toward interventions to address moral distress: navigating structure and agency. Nursing Ethics, 22(1), 91-102.

Rodney, P.A. (2017). What we know about moral distress. American Journal of Nursing, 117(2), S7-S10.

Stewart, M. (2001). Towards a global definition of patient centred care. British Medical Journal, 322, 444-445.

Whitehead, P.B., Herbertson, R.K., Hamric, A.B., Epstein, E.G. & Fisher, J.M. (2015). Moral distress among healthcare professionals: report of an institution-wide survey. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 47(2), 117-125.

Patient-Centered Care, Part 5/5: Patient Relationships

Kris English, PhD

The University of Akron/NOAC

This entry concludes a discussion on Patient-Centered Care with several applications to audiology practices. The first four entries are:

As mentioned in Part 4, finding common ground is often assumed to be our final step, since we’ve agreed on next steps and are ready to conclude the appointment. But the difference between a transaction and patient-centered care includes one more component: our skill in enhancing patient relationships.

Stewart et al. (2014) described these four components as interactive, and here is where we see it most clearly: forward-moving steps to an ultimate goal. We don’t explore for exploring’s sake, but to understand (and actively indicate that we understand) our patient’s needs as prerequisites to finding common ground.

However, the linearity of this model doesn’t do justice to the interactive impact of each component. Perhaps we can envision a set of cogs, each one vital to the process and each one affecting the others. Regardless, we are ready to consider some aspects of our last component:

Enhancing Patient Relationships

Stewart et al. (2014) list several characteristics associated with each interactive component of patient-centered care. Among those related to “Enhancing Patient Relationships,” we will focus on two that could be considered two sides of the same coin: empathy and self-awareness.

A piano sounding board

§ Empathy: Gallese et al. (2007) describe empathy as “intentional attunement” to another person’s experience, bringing to mind the metaphor of a sounding board. As clinicians dedicated to sound, we might especially “resonate” to Josselman’s (1996) definition: the ability to “put aside our own experience, at least momentarily, and reverberate to the feelings of another” (p. 203).

Interestingly, recent fMRI studies confirm that humans do in fact need to “put aside” other thinking as we empathize. Jack et al.’s 2013 report on fMRI studies indicate that humans seem to have a built-in neural constraint that prevents us from thinking empathically and analytically at the same time. The need to “toggle” from one mental state to another requires mindfulness, i.e. “a constant awareness of the encounter at multiple levels” (Scott et al., 2008, p. 319). We don’t give ourselves enough credit when we say “All I did was listen” – since “just listening” means an intentional decision about where we direct our attention.

§ Self-awareness: Epstein (1999) identified five types of self-awareness:

  1. Intrapersonal awareness of our own strengths and limitations
  2. Interpersonal awareness of how we are seen by others
  3. Learning awareness of our knowledge and skill levels, and the means to achieve learning goals
  4. Ethical awareness of our values and how they shape treatment decisions
  5. Technical awareness of our need to correct procedures in process, including communication

Readers will likely agree that, except for ethics, these types of self-awareness are not discussed much in audiology.  However, it has been observed time and again, including by McWhinney (1989), that “We cannot begin to know others until we know ourselves” (p. 82).

Intrapersonal awareness would include knowing our strengths as helpers, dedicated to hearing and balance health. If we are consistent with the general population, we are probably extroverts, but about one-fourth of us, as introverts, may not be fully aware of experiencing a greater energy drain from daily patient care compared to our extroverted colleagues. Our energy levels can affect patient care, but the toll is rarely acknowledged (although colleagues half-jokingly suggest a support group for “Introverted Auds” — as long as it doesn’t involve meeting and talking).

It seems we may not be like the general population when it comes to temperament. Informal data suggest we are twice as likely to be Guardians as classified by the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, which provides food for thought when we consider typical characteristics. Might Guardians sometimes struggle with patient-centeredness? An AuD student  recently gave himself the opportunity to transcend this tendency.

As for interpersonal awareness: what is our reaction to potentially difficult patient/family conversations? Are we inclined to avoid them altogether, rather than risk opening a “can of worms” (English et al., 2016)?  And do we recognize that we signal that reluctance? Or do we convey a willingness to work with them, as this audiologist reported during a workshop:

“A female patient felt her old hearing aids needed replacing. She had had three sets over the past 13 years. At today’s appointment, she posed many questions about her audiogram, wanting a ‘thorough explanation’ of her long-standing HL.”

Here is where the audiologist stepped “into the breach.” He did not have to ask any follow-up questions, but he did: “When I asked her how she was feeling, she got very emotional and left the room to compose herself. When she returned, she explained that she now realized for the first time that her hearing loss was not going to get better.”

Was this conversation uncomfortable for the audiologist? Yes — but he approached it anyway. What it therapeutic for the patient? She indicated it was: she felt grief but also relief, after all those years of holding on to false hope. We will find ourselves occasionally challenged to decide between our discomfort and potential patient catharsis and clarity. Those who are comfortable with difficult conversations could serve as mentors to those who are not. Avoidance helps no one, and is the antithesis of patient-centeredness.

Enhancing Relationship Tip #1: Empathy is Teachable

If empathy is not an innate skill, or was not nurtured (or even crushed!) in graduate school, clinicians can still evolve as empathizers, especially with self-evaluations or feedback from colleagues. Lundeby et al. (2015) provide a “teachable consultation model” that could serve as a study-group project with like-minded audiologists. (Contact the author [ke3@uakron.edu] to request a copy.)

Enhancing Relationship Tip #2: Know Your Temperament

Are you a Guardian like most audiologists? Or an Artisan, Realist, Idealist?  And how does your temperament align with your clinical goals? Find out at the Keirsey Temperament website. (Tip #3: after setting up an account, answer 71 questions; your results will follow in a Mini Report. Paying for additional information is not necessary!)

The Ultimate Question: Are “Enhancing Patient Relationships” an Evidence-Based Practice?

In addition to research and our own clinical expertise, EBP also considers patient values. For one patient’s (and her readers’) perspective, see “Are Audiologists from Mars?”  We must ask ourselves: if she had enhanced relationships with her audiologists, would she need to create a wish list?

And finally, some food for thought: ever wondered about the consequences of putting other priorities ahead of patient-centered care? Consider this essay.


1. I am aware of the attention required to toggle between empathy and problem-solving.

Yes            Working on it          Not sure what this means

2. I can explain how a “Guardian” temperament might be at odds with patient-centered practices.

Yes        I haven’t given this much thought

3. I am generally comfortable engaging with difficult conversations in clinical settings.

Yes            Working on it          Would rather avoid them

4. I can explain how all four components to patient-centered interact with each other.

Yes            Working on it          Not sure what this means

 


References

English, K., Jennings, M.B, Lind, C., Montano, J., Preminger, J., Saunders, G., Singh, G., & Thompson, E. (2016). Family-centered audiology care: Working with difficult conversations. Hearing Review, 23(6), 14-17.

Epstein, R. (1999). Mindful practice. JAMA, 282(9), 833-839.

Gallese, V., Eagle, M., & Migone, P. (2007). Intentional attunement: Mirror neurons and the neural underpinnings of interpersonal relationships. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 55(1), 131-175.

Jack, A., et. (2013). fMRI reveals reciprocal inhibition between social and physical cognitive domains. NeuroImage, 66, 385-401.

Josselman, R. (1996). The space between us: Exploring the dimensions of human relationships. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Lundeby, T. Gulbrandsen, P., & Finset, A. (2015). The expanded Four Habits Model: A teachable consultation model for encounters with patient in emotional distress. Patient Education and Counseling, 98, 598-603.

McWhinney, I. (1989). A textbook of family medicine. NY: Oxford University Press.

Scott, J., et al. (2008). Understanding healing relationships in primary care. Annals of Family Medicine, 6(4), 315-322.

Stewart, M., Brown, J.B., Weston, W.W., McWhinney, I.R., McWilliams, C.L., & Freeman, T.R. (2014). Patient centered medicine: Transforming the clinical method (3rd ed.). London: Radcliff Publishing.

Audiology Counseling and Patient-Centered Care, Part 4/5: Common Ground

Kris English, PhD, The University of Akron/NOAC

We are working through a discussion on Patient-Centered Care per Stewart et al.’s (2014) model. Part 1/5 provides an introduction; Part 2/5 (Exploring) and Part 3/5 (Active Understanding) apply the first two interactive components of their model to audiology. In this entry, we will consider the 3rd component, Finding Common Ground.

It’s Time to Focus

Finding common ground is an intentional move toward a mutual “meeting of minds,” with the goal of matching our patients’ goals with our expertise and recommendations. Gone are the days of “paternalism” in health care, when clinicians authoritatively informed patients of the treatment plan and expected unquestioning compliance (Emanual & Emanuel, 1992). An alternative approach, called the “informative model,” involves providing all options but with no attempt to motivate or inspire patients toward a particular direction. Needless to say, neither of these approaches supports the process of finding common ground. Patient-centered care requires what the Emanuels called an “interpretive model,” wherein the clinician not only explains all options but also works with the patient’s goals and values to ensure they co-develop a shared understanding of the plan moving forward. Gawande (2014) explains:

[As patients] we want information and control, but we also want guidance. The Emanuels described a third type of doctor-patient relationship, which they called “interpretive.” Here the doctor’s role is to help patients determine what they want. Interpretive doctors ask, “What is most important to you? What are your worries?” Then, when they know your answers, they tell you about the red pill and the blue pill and which one would most help you achieve your priorities. (p. 201)

In other words, we seek to combine our knowledge and experience with patient needs to help us agree on a plan for preferred outcomes, land on the same page. We are in no way a neutral bystander; in a very real sense, we are the “most important instrument” in the room.

Moving Toward Common Ground

Finding common ground in health care is a 2-step process: (1) agreeing on “what is wrong” and (2) agreeing on “what to do about it.”

We readily learn “what is wrong” from the patient’s point of view as we explore and actively understand a patient’s concerns and needs. We may be inclined to begin our formal assessments at this point to determine “what is wrong” from an audiologic perspective, but that step could interrupt the “finding common ground” process. It can be a challenge to disrupt what Stewart et al. (2014) call the “canonical organization” (p. 112) of an audiology appointment, but let’s give it some thought.

It’s true that without test results, it’s too soon to “agree on what to do” about hearing help, but we can lay some preliminary groundwork to that conversation by seeking input regarding “what to do about it” from the patient’s point of view. We are fully aware that hearing help recommendations are often met with resistance, objections, distress. A first-time patient is surely harboring many questions about amplification, and it can help to open up those questions before confirming a hearing loss. Once we collect our patient’s ideas on “what to do about it,” we can pick up on the testing process.

Some “Common Ground” Tools

Until we ask, we do not know how hearing loss affects what matters most in our patients’ lives, and what they want to do about it. To understand these concerns, audiologists can use some simple tools to elicit and document patient input. Following are screen shots of 3 readily-available tools:

  1. The Client Oriented Scale of Improvement. The COSI is a classic patient-centered tool that helps the patient articulate desired changes.  As mentioned above, when patients effectively write their own treatment plan, they are more likely to adhere to it.

2. Ida Institute Scales. The two scales below ask the patient to rate importance and also self-efficacy (“how much do you believe in your ability…”). When the ratings are low, we are once again reminded we cannot assume anything. A follow-up on our part should include the queries: what would it take to move your answer higher on the scale?  What is on your mind that holds you back?  To access these tools, first create an account here: 

3. The Characteristics of Amplification Tool (COAT). Developed by Sandridge and Newman in 2006, this is one of the first tools to ask about motivation and also expectations (“how well do you think HA will improve your hearing?”). Their original article explains how to use the tool; a recently modified version is available to download here.

Also: Simple “Readiness Scales”

Palmer et al. (2009) found an important correlation between hearing aid decisions and a patient’s answer to the question,”On a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being the worst and 10 being the best, how would you rate your overall hearing ability?’’  Most patients are familiar with the 1-10 scale concept; a simple way to determine readiness is pose the question, On a scale of 1-10, how ready are you to:

“The readiness is all” (Hamlet V, ii)

  • hear better?
  • try amplification?
  • try an assistive device?
  • advocate for yourself at work?

Shakespeare had it right: we don’t make any changes or decisions until we are ready — a psychological state that is hard to explain but easy to quantify. Asking patients to think about and rate their state of readiness helps them organize their priorities, acknowledge their doubts, and hopefully clear away misgivings.

Finding Common Ground = Intentionally Sharing Power

Please note: finding common ground means “mutually influencing each other, each potentially ending up in a place different from where they began, with different understandings than either would have reached alone. It is not a matter of who has power and who does not.” (Stewart et al., 2014, p. 138).  (More on “sharing power” here.)

Closing Thought

Finding common ground is often mistakenly assumed to be a final step, occurring after all the information about the patient’s problem is obtained and sorted out by the clinician. But patient-centered care includes one more component, to be explained in Part 5/5 of this series.

The Ultimate Question: Is “Finding Common Ground” an Evidence-Based Practice?

See Stewart et al. (2000) to learn more.

NEXT: Patient-Centered Care, Part 5/5: Patient Relationships


1. I can explain the difference between “informative” and “interpretive” models in patient care.

Yes            Still working on it

2. I am willing to disrupt the “canonical organization” of an audiology appointment in order to learn what a patient “wants to do” re: hearing help before I begin testing.

Yes              Not sure

3. I already use at least one of the “common ground tools” described above.

Yes              No

4. I actively strive to “share power” with patients and families.

Almost always       Sometimes         I haven’t given this much thought

5. I can explain why “finding common ground” is an evidence-based practice.

Yes            Still working on it


 References

Emanuel, EJ & Emanuel, LL. (1992). Four models of the physician-patient relationship. JAMA, 267(16), 2221-2226.

Gawande, A. (2014). Being Mortal: Medicine and what matters most in the end. NY: Henry Holt.

Palmer C. et al. (2009) Self-perception of hearing ability as a strong predictor of hearing aid purchase. JAAA, 20, 341-347.

Sandridge S, & Newman C. (2006). Improving the efficiency and accountability of the hearing aid selection process – Use of the COAT. 

Sandridge S, & Newman C. (2014). Characteristics Of Amplification Tool, v2. 

Stewart, M., Brown, J.B., Weston, W.W., McWhinney, I.R., McWilliams, C.L., & Freeman, T.R. (2014). Patient centered medicine: Transforming the clinical method (3rd ed.). London: Radcliff Publishing.

Audiology Counseling and Patient-Centered Care, Part 3/5: Understanding

Kris English, PhD

The University of Akron/NOAC

As mentioned in Part 1/5 and Part 2/5 of this series, Stewart et al. (2014) provide a framework to implement Patient Centered Care (PCC), organized around four interactive components. In this entry, we will consider the 2nd component, Understanding the Whole Person.

Understanding: Patient-as-Person

Already we are seeing the interactive nature of each component, since the first PCC component encourages us to “explore” by finding out about our patients. Relative to their hearing circumstances, what are their personal backgrounds, their current situations, and what is important at this time?  A person’s life- and world-context matters for everybody, but particularly for our patients, whose hearing loss can have direct impact on their life and their world. Factoring those contexts into our understanding of the “whole person” is considered “a hallmark of the patient-centered clinician” (Stewart et al., p. 89)

Understanding: Patient-in-Context

The additional layer to this component is understanding the patient as part of an eco-system, in a way.  “Proximal context” generally includes one’s immediate family and other important persons in our patient’s living circumstances. Expanding outward, we would like to know about living circumstances (neighbors, care-givers), employment status and associated listening challenges; social supports within one’s community, and so on. Additionally, “distal context” may be relevant to many patients, if their culture and community play an active part in their life.

“Listen and Learn” — But Don’t Stop!

There is more to the “understanding” component than meets the eye. To be of any value, our understanding must be actively communicated to the speaker. Merely listening and processing the input does not help a patient “feel heard.” We must actively respond. Consider these details from a study that tracked patient comments, subsequent physicians’ responses, and ultimate patient outcomes to get a sense of how important it is to actively convey understanding.

Adams et al. (2012) recorded, transcribed, and evaluated 79 patient-physician office visits. They identified 190 instances of patients expressions of emotional state, coded the physicians’ responses, and then categorized the responses as follows:

  • Responses that focused away from emotion
  • Neutral (Focused neither away from or toward)
  • Responses that focused toward emotion

They also took the additional step of evaluating consequences: what were the outcomes relative to patient care?  The flow chart below tracks the three “response choices.”  When physicians ignored patient emotions, outcomes were unproductive at best: when distance and even antagonism develops, we know we are going in the wrong direction. However, when physicians responded to emotions (i.e., what patients actually wanted to talk about) with neutral or actively focused responses, outcomes were productive: additional discussion led to a confirmation of goals; support was conveyed; patients and physicians understood they were on the same page.

Fig. 1. Physician responses to patients’ expressions of emotion: immediate effect on communication and associated patterns of further communication. (Adams et al,, 2012, p. 47)

Did Responses Make a Difference?

Of course they did. Let’s assume that physicians in the first column of boxes did hear their patients’ emotional concerns, but simply failed to respond in an active way to let the patients (and the researchers) perceive it. It is quite easy to become distracted, anticipate other topics, notice the time and rush ahead. But missed opportunities have consequences; our efforts to be patient-centered must keep “active understanding” a high priority.

Following are three tips to support our endeavors to convey understanding:

Active Understanding Tip #1: Use Observable (Measurable) “Understanding Responses” 

The following kinds of responses are within everyone’s repertoire; the only concern is remembering to communicate them. Recommendations from the Patient-Centered Observation Form (PCOF) (Keen et al. 2015) include:

  • Use continuer phrases (OK; hmm-mm) and attentive body language
  • Validate emotions (you’re worried about changes; it sounds like you were uncomfortable?)
  • Elicit more input (Could you help me understand with an example? Anything else?)
  • Confirm what is most important to patient (So let me confirm: you indicated the following problems need our attention…)

Audiologists interested in improving this skill might consider partnering with a colleague to observe/count instances of active understanding by using the PCOF.

Active Understanding Tip #2: Include Family

Research (e.g., Singh et al. 2016) consistently supports the value of including family members (“proximal context”) in audiology appointments.  This essay provides some food for thought.

Active Understanding Tip #3: Try Ida Institute’s Communication Rings

This easy-to-easy and literally patient-centered tool helps the audiologist understand not only our patients’ family/”proximal” contexts but also their “distal” contexts. Organizing and prioritizing one’s “communication world” has the double benefit of helping both the audiologist and the patient understand the impact of hearing loss.

 

PCC is a Process

At this point, we see that Patient-Centered Care does not involve a singular change in practice, but rather a commitment to an integrated process. We have applied the first two steps to audiology; the next steps will be examined in Parts 4/5 and 5/5

The Ultimate Question: Is “Active Understanding” an Evidence-Based Practice?

See Tzelepis et al. (2015) to learn more.

NEXT: Audiology Counseling and Patient-Centered Care, Part 4/5: Common Ground


  1. I routinely inquire about a patient’s proximal and distal contexts.

Almost always         Sometimes        I tend to skip this step

  1. I am aware of the risks of not actively conveying understanding about a patient’s emotional responses to hearing loss.

Fully aware        Sometimes aware           Hadn’t realized it until now

  1. I would find it helpful to review my responses to determine if they conveyed active understanding.

Yes              Not sure

  1. I actively include family members in appointments (per patient preference).

Almost always       Sometimes         I often skip this step

  1. I can explain why “active understanding” is an evidence-based practice.

Yes            Still working on it


References

Adams K et al. (2012). Why should I talk about emotion? Communication patterns associated with physician discussion of patient expressions of negative emotions in hospital admission encounters. Patient Education and Counseling, 89, 44-50.

Keen, M., Caswe-Lucas, J., Carline, J., & Mauksch, L. (2015). Using the patient centered observation form: Evaluation of an online training program. Patient Education and Counseling, 98, 753-761.

Singh, G., et al. (2016). Family-centered adult audiologic care: A Phonak position statement. Hearing Review, 23(4), 16-21.

Stewart, M., Brown, J.B., Weston, W.W., McWhinney, I.R., McWilliams, C.L., & Freeman, T.R. (2014). Patient centered medicine: Transforming the clinical method (3rd ed.). London: Radcliff Publishing.

Tzelepis, F., Sanson-Fisher, R., Zucca, A., & Fradgley, E. (2015). Measuring the quality of patient-centered care: Why patient-reported measures are critical to reliable assessment. Patient Preference and Adherence, 9, 831-835.

Audiology Counseling and Patient-Centered Care, Part 2/5: Exploring

 

Kris English, PhD

The University of Akron/NOAC

As mentioned in Part 1/5 of this 5-part series, Stewart et al. (2014) offer a framework to help us understand and implement Patient-Centered Care (PCC), organized around four interactive components. In this entry, we will consider the first component, Exploring Heath, Disease and the Illness Experience.

The very phrase may strike audiologists as odd: after all, we communicate with patients from the onset, starting with the case history. How is that different from exploring? Exploration does include the typical case history (“history, physical, lab”), but that step alone certainly does not encompass the entirety of the patient’s experience. In audiology, patient-centered care also strives to understand patients’ “unique perceptions and experience” of hearing loss: what it means to them, their thoughts and feelings about their experience, how HL is affecting their lives, and their expectations re: hearing help. These concerns are not necessarily revealed while collecting health and hearing history.

We know full well that hearing loss impacts “the self” (self-concept, self-confidence, self-efficacy), as well as family relationships, social interactions, community engagement, leisure activities. Patients may be distressed about these impacts and want us to understand them, or they may not be ready to accept the reality that their hearing is changing. Whatever the starting point, in addition to collecting case history information (by definition “ear-centered”), we are also challenged to find ways to explore our patients’ “unique perceptions and experience” of hearing loss.

What does exploration look like in audiology practice? Good news: it does not involve radical changes. Even better news: exploration adds an additional level of essential human connection to the encounter.

Exploration does involve authentic curiosity and a few key questioning, listening, and responding skills. For example …

“What Brings You Here Today?”

A very familiar start! And also a patient-centered start. However, after a patient’s first few sentences, we reach a conversational crossroads and make a decision: either transition to the “history” piece, or explore a little further to find out what really matters to the patient.

As Stewart at al. (2014) observe, “The reasons patients present themselves to their practitioners when they do are often more important than the diagnosis” (p. 49). What are the reasons? How can we find out? Following are three tips for intrepid audiology explorers:

Explorer Tip #1: Discussing Self-Assessment Reports

When a patient completes a self-assessment, we often glance over the results and then add it to our report with no discussion. If so, we miss an opportunity to explore. Self-assessments give patients a framework to reflect upon and disclose pieces of their lives; the results are a natural springboard for an exploratory conversation. Even if the self-assessment addresses only situational challenges (e.g., work, restaurants), we can invite personal observations: “You indicate here sometimes feeling embarrassed when meeting new people (per HHIE-S, Newman & Weinstein, 1988). Does an example come to mind? Could you tell me more about it?” We might learn what embarrassment means to this unique patient: that it may mean choosing to opt out of social settings, that the experience also includes frustration, discomfort, discouragement, worry. However the patient frames the experience, putting those concerns into words begins a self-help process: patients gain meaning, and eventually mastery, of their situation. The invitation to elaborate may not be accepted but we should still try, because “tell me more about it” is a fundamental patient-centered practice.

Explorer Tip #2: Using Open-ended Questions

Open-ended questions come easily to some audiologists, while others worry about losing control of the conversation. It can take some practice and perhaps asking a colleague for moral support, but it’s worth the effort. Insisting on conversational control is the antithesis of PCC.

Examples of open-ended questions include:

  • “You’ve helped me understand your family’s concerns. What are your thoughts?”
  • “So you are thinking about hearing help – sometimes it helps me to know ‘why now?’ Has anything specific come up?”
  • “A few things you’ve mentioned suggests you might be worried about what other people will think about you using hearing aids. The worry about stigma is something many patients mention. Is this on your mind as well?”

A caveat re: open-ended questions: Not every patient will want to actively participate in these conversations, and they have a right to decline. As van Dulman (2003) puts it, “Listening to patients and having them decide how much they want to participate may actually be the essence of patient-centered care” (p.195).

Explorer Tip #3: Listening and Waiting

Whether from self-assessments or spontaneous conversation, we hope to engage our patients and learn how we can help. As they answer our question, “What brings you here today?”, patients tentatively drop their guard, begin to feel accepted, and decide whether we can be trusted. That trust must be in place before patients decide to move forward.

As we know, listening requires our full attention (no multi-tasking); therapeutic listening also requires us temporarily to refrain from advice-giving and problem-solving. It is often not in an audiologist’s nature to “let a patient feel the way she feels,” but patient-centeredness is based on this principle. When patients express gratitude for our time and attention, we may find ourselves saying “all I did was listen,” but we will also know why it helped.

If you think you already understand how someone else feels or what they are trying to say, it is a delusion. … There is always more to learn. (Stone et al., 2009, p. 170)

Worried about silences? Think about them as waiting; it can make a difference in our comfort level.

The Ultimate Question: Is “Exploring” an Evidence-Based Practice?

See Zolnierek and DiMatteo (2009) to learn more.

NEXTAudiology Counseling and Patient-Centered Care, Part 3/5: Understanding


  1. During my first conversation with new patients, I can recognize the “conversational crossroad” when it approaches.

Almost always         Sometimes        Not Sure

  1. I am comfortable using a self-assessment to explore a patient’s experiences living with hearing loss.

Almost always         Sometimes               I haven’t tried this approach

  1. I am generally comfortable using open-ended questions.

Almost always         Sometimes               Not usually

  1. By the end of an appointment with new patients, I have learned something unique about them.

Almost always         Sometimes               Not usually

  1. I can explain why Patient-Centered Care is an evidence-based practice.

Yes      Still working on it


References:

Newman, C., & Weinstein, B. (1988). The Hearing Handicap Inventory for the Elderly as a measure of hearing aid benefit. Ear and Hearing, 9(2), 81-85.

Stewart, M., Brown, J.B., Weston, W.W., McWhinney, I.R., McWilliams, C.L., & Freeman, T.R. (2014). Patient centered medicine: Transforming the clinical method (3rd ed.). London: Radcliff Publishing.

Stone, D., Patton, B, & Heen, S. (2009). Difficult conversations: How to discuss what matters most. NY: Viking.

van Dulman, S. (2003). Patient-centeredness. Patient Education and Counseling, 51, 195-196.

Zolnierek, K.B., & DiMatteo, M.R. (2009). Physician communication and patient adherence to treatment: A meta-analysis. Medical Care, 47, 826–834.

Audiology Counseling and Patient-Centered Care, Part I/5: Introduction

Kris English, PhD

The University of Akron/NOAC

ke3@uakron.edu

 

In 2001, the Institute of Medicine recommended six goals to improve health care, by taking steps to ensure that health care is:

  • Safe: avoiding injuries to patients from the care that is intended to help them.
  • Effective: providing services based on scientific knowledge to all who could benefit, and refraining from providing services to those not likely to benefit.
  • Patient-centered: providing care that is respectful of and responsive to in­dividual patient preferences, needs, and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.
  • Timely: reducing waits and sometimes harmful delays for both those who receive and those who give care.
  • Efficient: avoiding waste, including waste of equipment, supplies, ideas, and energy.
  • Equitable: providing care that does not vary in quality because of personal characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, geographic location, and socioeconomic status.

Patient-centeredness is especially relevant to this web forum, since it assumes a set of therapeutic skills in interpersonal communication.  But although the IOM provides this working definition, the following concerns can be found in health care literature:

“Patient-centered care (PCC) is a poorly conceptualized phenomenon and can indicate anything from soothing room design, emotional support of patients, customization of meals, to support of patient decision making. This inconsistency across the clinical and research literature makes the application of PCC difficult” (Hobbs, 2009, p. 52).

“The term person-centered care (PCC) has been frequently used in the literature, but there is no consensus about its meaning” (Morgan & Yoder, 2012, p. 6).

“A clear definition is lacking” (Rathert et al., 2012, p. 351).

“The implementation of PCC has been hampered by the lack of a clear definition and method of measurement (Robinson et al., 2009, p. 600).

“We still don’t know how to do [PCC] or how to teach it” (Cassel, 2013, p. xii).

A bit alarming! However, since 1995, patient-centeredness has been expertly addressed by Stewart et al. (mostly recently in 2014), and in my humble opinion, their text serves as a gold standard: not only do they clearly and comprehensively define patient-centeredness, but they also show the reader “how to do it” and “how to teach it.”

To date, patient-centered care (PCC) has been only indirectly addressed in audiology, likely resulting in the same problems with clarity mentioned above. However, clarity is needed now more than ever, as audiology strives to elevate its relevance in health care “beyond the audiogram” and “beyond technology” by returning, as many say, “back to our roots” as fully-rounded and value-added care providers. For our patients’ sakes and for our future as a helping profession, we must commit to and effectively practice evidence-based patient-centeredness.

This entry is the first in a 5-part series designed to compile what we know about PCC in audiology, as well as identify what we don’t know. The next four entries willl explore the concept of patient-centeredness in audiology practices, using Stewart et al.’s (2014) “interactive components” as a framework:

 

2/5: Exploring Heath, Disease and the Illness Experience 

  • Unique perceptions and experience of health (meaning and aspirations)
  • History, physical, lab
  • Dimensions of the illness experience (feelings, ideas, effects on function and expectations)

3/5: Understanding the Whole Person

  • The person (e.g., life history, personal and developmental issues)
  • The proximal context (e.g., family, employment, social support)
  • The distal context (e.g., cultural, community, ecosystem)

4/5: Finding Common Ground

  • Problems and priorities
  • Goals of treatment and/or management
  • Roles of patient and doctor (audiologist)

5/5: Enhancing the Patient-Clinician Relationship

  • Compassion and empathy
  • Power
  • Healing and hope
  • Self-awareness and practical wisdom
  • Transference and countertransference

Each module will include an informal self-assessment, plus encouragement to connect with a like-minded colleague to discuss, test out, and grow into new patient-centered practices.  A seemingly small change such as not describing the audiogram to every new patient merely out of habit tends to make us very uncomfortable. Support from colleagues can help us step out of our comfort zone.

Invitation: If the reader is interested in contributing to this topic, please send a note to the email address at the top of this page.

NEXT: Audiology Counseling and Patient-Centered Care, Part 2/5: Exploring


References:

Cassell, E.J. (2013). The nature of healing: The modern practice of medicine. New York: Oxford University Press.

Hobbs, J.L. (2009). A dimensional analysis of patient-centered care. Nursing Research, 58(1), 52-62.

Institute of Medicine. (2001). Crossing the chasm: A new health system for the 21st century. Washington DC: National Academy Press.

Morgan, S., & Yoder, L.H. (2012). A concept analysis of patient-centered care. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 30(1), 6-15.

Rathert, C., Wyrwich, M.D., & Boren, S.A. (2012) Patient-centered care and outcomes: A systematic review of the literature. Medical Care Research and Review, 70(4), 351-379.

Robinson, J.h., Callister, L.S., Berry., J.A., & Dearing, K.S. (2008). Patient-centered care and adherence: Definitions and applications to improve outcomes. American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, 20, 600-607.

Stewart, M., Brown, J.B., Weston, W.W., McWhinney, I.R., McWilliams, C.L., & Freeman, T.R. (2014). Patient centered medicine: Transforming the clinical method (3rd ed.). London: Radcliff Publishing.

From Person-Centered Moments to Person-Centered Culture

Laya Poost-Foroosh, PhD., MClSc.
AMS Phoenix Fellow & Research Associate
St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Canada
Audiologist
Sound Advice Hearing Clinic, Toronto, Canada

Many organizations and healthcare professionals have person-centered aspirations and perceive their model of care to be person-centered. However, the complexities and constraints of actual practice may lead to person-centered moments, occurring in spite of health systems that actually impede person-centered care. As more organizations declare person-centered care as their preferred model of practice, challenges to effectively deploy person-centered care start to emerge. These challenges include both organizational challenges that are embedded in the organizational practice culture and individual challenges associated with lack of adequate training. These challenges could impact how person-centered care is perceived and enacted in different organizations. The following are two examples of encounters that have elements or degrees of person-centered care; however, they result in different outcomes and different care experience by patient.

A Person-Centered Moment

Emily is an 8-year old girl whose teacher suggested her hearing to be tested. Her parents took Emily to see an audiologist. The hearing assessment showed a permanent moderate hearing loss in both ears. When Emily’s parents heard the test results and learned that she needed hearing aids, they were shocked. They were also shocked to hear how much the instruments cost and how much commitment and follow-up it would take to manage Emily’s hearing needs. They felt the audiologist was kind and thorough with testing; she spent one full hour with them and explained the test results and hearing aid options and why it was important for Emily to use hearing aids. She also provided different hearing aid options. However, all of the options were beyond their budget, so they told the audiologist they needed to think about it. They left the clinic without any immediate treatment plans.

seeking “an emotional engagement with the patient that goes beyond sharing information” (Stewart et al., 2014, p. 10)

A Person-Centered Culture

This scenario has played out differently in another setting. In the second setting, Emily’s audiologist recommended hearing aids and Emily’s parents showed some hesitation to follow up with the recommendation. However, in this scenario the audiologist did not want them to leave without knowing what the source of their hesitation was. The audiologist did not know what the issue was; were the parents shocked with the news and needing more time to process it? Was the issue the stigma associated with wearing hearing aids? Or were there concerns with the cost of the intervention? So, she spent more time to get to know Emily and her family. She learned that there were some concerns with Emily’s hearing when she was younger but her parents did not take it seriously because Emily started talking, reading, and writing in line with typical developmental expectations.

They also thought the reason that Emily did not socialize in school like other kids her age was because she was shy. They did not attribute Emily’s poor academic performance to her hearing because they were never academically strong themselves. Emily’s dad works in a bakery and her mom has a part time job with minimum wage. Emily has three siblings ranging in age from 3 to 11.

After taking the time to get to know the family better, the audiologist realized the reason for Emily’s parents’ hesitation was a complex mix of guilt, regret, and frustration. While their most tangible concern was the cost associated with getting hearing aids, they also felt regret for not having noticed or acted sooner, and could not help but wonder if Emily had missed out on academic and social development over the years as a result of their own failings.

Continue reading

When Patients Look Away, Do We Keep Talking?

 

Kris English, PhD

The University of Akron/NOAC

We get so busy. We have much to accomplish in an appointment, slightly on auto-pilot but the conversation seems to be going well, and then …

 

…the patient (or parent) breaks eye contact. She looks at the floor, or her hands, or the door (no mystery what that likely means), or at nothing in particular. Do we notice? If we notice, do we pause? Or do we keep talking and ignore the nonverbal cue?

Patient and parent interactions seem so routine, it is easy to overlook the underlying dynamics, although medicine has studied them for years (Finset, 2016).  A starting point for audiology is the consideration of eye contact – a simple concept but not much discussed in our literature.  So let’s consider it now:

Question #1  How many times during an appointment does a patient or parent break eye contact? As a profession, we don’t know. As professionals, we probably have never noticed.

Question #2  Why do patients break eye contact? What does it mean when a patient looks away from our face, or withdraws from our joint attention on devices or forms? We can’t be sure, but the patient is probably thinking about/feeling something new. Perhaps he is trying to process what we are saying. Perhaps a wave of emotion has interrupted his ability to concentrate. Perhaps our conversation triggered a memory, a doubt, a worry, a question, a regret, a recognition of embarrassing-but-real vanity (Kajimura & Nomura, 2016).

Question #3  What do we do when a patient or parent looks away?  As members of Western culture, our instinct is likely to keep talking, because we are socialized to move the conversation forward and avoid awkward silences. And yet as we do so, we must realize that (1) we are wasting effort because the patient is not listening, and (2) we are missing a potential opportunity to help. At this moment, something weighs on this person’s mind and heart, and if allowed an extra moment, he may wish to share it. However, by forging ahead, we unwittingly violate a basic principle of patient-centered care. Continue reading

Like the Emperor’s New Clothes … Invisible! Or at Least Tiny or Discreet?

Hearing Excellence Low Resolution-9533Jeanine Doherty, Au.D., M.Phil., M.B.S, B.Soc.Sci.(Hons.)

Hearing Excellence, Christchurch, New Zealand

In Hans Christian Andersen’s (1837) tale, an Emperor’s weavers said they made him some new clothes that would be visible to all but the stupid or incompetent, when in fact they had made no clothes at all. So he walked around naked, yet believed he was attractively well dressed and adequately demonstrating his position of achievement and power.

We must hope that hearing aid manufacturers are not looking at hearing aid visibility with the same deceptive reasoning, for in their push for invisibility as desirable, audiologists and aid wearers could be treated as if a bit stupid. Completely in-the-ear hearing aids were introduced by the manufacturers, in part, as a solution for stigma or the “hearing aid effect” (Johnson et al, 2005) and yet it can be argued that making the devices discreet actually contributes to self-stigma, a belief that hearing loss is a problem that should be hidden (Kelly & Wensveen 2014; Wallhagen, 2009).

Invisible hearing aids have also been shown to produce the highest mark-up factor for both manufacturer and audiologist (De Silva, Thakur & Xie, 2013). It could be suggested that our promotion of invisible aids is a social construction suiting our own benefit.  Or is invisibility also, or solely, an end-user concern? What is a patient’s desire for invisibility driven by? Vanity, stigma, gender, significant-other input? How do we counsel that size really does not matter?

Vanity and Stigma

Most human interactions involve an appreciable chance of being slightly embarrassed, or a slight chance of being deeply humiliated (Goffman, 1959). We spend a lot of energy managing the impressions we make in appearance and lifestyle to avoid embarrassment to the best we can (Scheff, 2013), Cooley (1922) wrote that our perception of ourselves has 3 principal elements:

  1. Our imagination of our appearance to others
  2. Our imagination of their judgement of our appearance
  3. Self-judgement about these imaginings, such as pride or mortification

The four traits of vanity common within sociology, psychology and philosophy literature are consistent with Cooley: (1) appearance concern, (2) concern about appearance perception, (3) achievement concern and (4) concern about achievement perception. Appearance concern and achievement concern are related to personal values, while the two perception components relate to self-concept (Wang & Waller, 2006).

Wang and Waller (ibid.) state that advertising messages use this knowledge to appeal to our need for physical beauty and achievement status. We see the symbolically positive appeal, for example in an expensive handbag or car advert, where customers are told their beauty and/or status will improve with ownership. In hearing aid adverts, we see a negative spin on product visibility; consumers, then, are led to prefer invisibility to protect their self-image. Continue reading