Breakthrough Patient Recruitment

: How Health Care Providers Can Help Patients Manage Fear

How Health Care Providers Can Help Patients Manage Fear

Global Content Strategist

Being diagnosed with a life-altering disease is no easy experience. In the case of cancer, fear is often one of the first things a person experiences upon receiving a diagnosis. There's a blank moment and then the realization of how one's life may change sinks in and fear takes over, often for a long time. Many people don't really recall what was said during the discussion after hearing the diagnosis.

Communicating about fear is also no easy task. The diagnosis often indicates profound life changes. Health care providers (and health care communicators) need to have an understanding of the nature and origin of fear and the persistent worry their patients may encounter. They are instrumental in guiding patients to overcome shock and fear and to properly engage them in treatment.

Fear may prevent a patient from effectively handling their diagnosis, making it even more essential for health care providers and communicators to be there for them. According to the College of Nursing at Michigan State University, " Nurses who are comfortable with listening for and discussing existentially related concerns may be in a better position to promote the patient's psychological adaptation."

Here are a few tips to share with patients to help them deal with a difficult diagnosis:

Start a diary or take notes and share it with the health care team: Being fearful or nervous may make it hard to remember things. Patients may find it helpful to write down their feelings or ideas and then bring the diary or notes to the doctor visits. Writing things down can help ensure all concerns are addressed during the visit. Taking notes during visits can also help patients and doctors avoid miscommunication about health care issues.

Talk to people with similar experience: Although each patient may have a variety of feeling and will handle them in a different way, it is important to learn from others. People with the same or similar diagnosis could be a good resource for coping strategies. Patients could benefit from joining a support group or checking out a blog specific to their health issue.

Health care providers play an essential role in helping patients deal with their fear. It is important to understand the fear patients may experience and be there for them as listeners and advisors. Talking to someone who understands how patients are feeling is the best way to handle fear.

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The Healthy(ist) blog is a platform to share, learn about, and debate topics related to public and social health, scientific research, health communications, and behavior change.
We invite and encourage anyone interested in current public health and health communication trends and issues to join MMG's contributing bloggers in adding their voice to the ongoing discussion about how we can advance health, together.

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