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Based on research done by Pelletier, Jean, Lesage, Alain, Bonin, Jean-Pierre, Bordeleau, Julie, Rochon, Nathalie, Baril, Sylvain, & Medina, Karen, (2016) written by Bethany Wellman, M.S.
Patients with Schizophrenia have 70% higher mortality from their physical illness compared with the general population. Medical staffs’ miscommunication with seriously mentally ill patients may cause misdiagnosing, poor maintenance of pain, and lack of effective medical care. Medical staff may misattribute chronic and serious mentally ill patients’ physical symptoms to their mental illness. Or, they think these patients aren’t interested in details of their health issues and medications.
To pilot test health promotion skills training, a nurse and a patient with serious mental illness taught patient problem solving and communication skills to twenty primary care providers.
Providers’ pre- and post-training surveys revealed greater awareness of the deficiencies in treatment and resources needed for quality care of medical patients with mental health needs. They learned specific and pertinent medicines, counseling skills, and the effectiveness of counseling. We need further research to see if this training will help physicians and nurses to early diagnose and treat them, thus decreasing mortality.
Encourage and support primary care providers to collaborate with other professionals in working effectively with mental health patients. Training helps develop comprehensive strategies as well as understanding the existence of deficiencies in care. Open, skillful, and kind communication is key!
Pelletier, J., Lesage, A., Bonin, J., Bordeleau, J., Rochon, N., Baril, S., & Medina, K. (2016). When Patients Train Doctors: Feasibility and Acceptability of Patient Partnership to Improve Primary Care Providers’ Awareness of Communication Barriers in Family Medicine for Persons with Serious Mental Illness. Mental Health in Family Medicine, 12, 112-118.