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Health Forum Online    The Psychologist's Source for C.E. Credits Online

Enhancing Provider-Patient-Family Communication: Theoretical, Ethical, Clinical and Sociocultural Considerations

by Dana Gionta, PhD 4 CE Credits

In recent years, there has been increasing awareness regarding the importance of clear and effective communication between patients, families, and medical staff in the context of illness and medical ethics. A central focus has been provider-patient communication, with the patient as the primary unit of care. Historically, the role of the family in provider-patient communication research has often been overlooked. However, increasing evidence demonstrates that the family is not only affected by a loved one's illness, but that it often plays a central role in a family member's health care, and more specifically, in their health communication encounters with doctors and other health providers. This course discusses what is meant by the term 'health communication', examines the role of communication in patient care and reviews the relevant theories and existing empirical evidence related to provider-patient-family communication. Evidence-based clinical guidelines for mental health providers and allied healthcare professionals are offered to facilitate more effective and satisfactory provider-patient-family communication and collaborative care.

Continuing education for this online course is offered through the following approvals:


  • HealthForum is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. HealthForum maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
  • HealthForum (ACE Provider #1156) is approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) www.aswb.org, through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) Program. HealthForum maintains responsibility for the program. ASWB Approval Period: (6/20/2017 to 6/20/2020). Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval for continuing education credits. Social workers participating in this course will receive 4 Clinical continuing education clock hours.
  • HealthForumOnline, LLC, SW CPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #0355
Course Sections/Outline:
  • Introduction: Biopsychosocial Theory and the Role of Family in Health Care
  • What is Communication? Types and Underlying Assumptions
  • A Theoretical Model of Health Communication
  • Why is Provider-Patient-Family Communication Important in Healthcare?
  • General Factors Influencing the Communication Process
  • What Difficulties May Be Specific to Patients?
  • What Communication Issues Do Families and Caregivers Experience?
  • Communication Issues Specific to Medical Staff
  • Patterns of Provider-Patient Communication: A Framework for Viewing Exchanges
  • Biomedical Ethics and Health Communication: Definition and Principles
  • Common Ethical Issues in Provider-Patient-Family Communication
  • Guidelines to Enhance Intra-Family and Provider-Patient-Family Communication
  • Conclusion
  • References

Learning Objectives:

After completing this course, health professionals will be able to:
  • Identify a key communication theory in the patient-provider-family communication, a working model of health communication (i.e. HCM), and 4 important reasons to focus on enhancing communication in patient care.
  • Recognize 4 common themes that impact communication, with an emphasis on potential facilitators and barriers, as well as ethical and cultural factors.
  • Indicate at least 6 unique communication issues in the healthcare context relevant to providers, patients and their primary caregivers and families, including cognitive/attitudinal factors, accessibility, role confusion, confidentiality issues, disclosure/informed consent, competing goals, etc.
  • Describe and apply an evidence-based clinical framework and ethical guideline for communication among health care staff, patients and families to promote the efficacy of and the satisfaction with communication and collaborative care.