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Article from Lamar University looks at person-centered strategies for effective communication

By Amanda Farah Cox

Are you looking for new ways to develop person-centered clinical strategies? A literature review by a team at the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, offers a comprehensive look at what person-centered strategies can lead to a successful first appointment. 

Patient-Centered Strategies for Effective Communication During the Initial Audiological Consultation Sessions” looks at different interactions among people with hearing loss, their communication partners, and the hearing care professionals. The authors – Monica L. Bellon-Harn, Vinaya Manchaiah, and Jamie H. Azios – identified five communication themes in their review that hearing care professionals should be mindful of in their initial consultations to set the stage for a successful client-clinician relationship:

  • Interaction balance and reciprocity
  • Discussion of patient concerns and development of therapeutic alliance
  • Patient and family expressions of concerns 
  • Audiologist response to patient and family expressions of concerns
  • Conversation patterns related to acceptance of treatment recommendations

Based on these themes, the authors looked at person-centered strategies to help clinicians facilitate a positive first experience, including focusing on the client perspective, acknowledging client concerns, and addressing the potential psychological impact of learning they have a hearing loss. 

Much of the authors’ recommendations emphasize research showing the need to balance how much the clinician speaks in an initial appointment versus how much the client speaks. Research cited in the review shows that the clinician’s expertise regarding, for example, hearing aid fittings or explaining complex conditions will require more talk time from the hearing care professional in subsequent appointments. But for a first appointment, giving the person with hearing loss time and space to tell their story is crucial to understanding their needs, wants, and preferences and building a therapeutic alliance. 

The review further recommends reflective practice as a means to help audiologists recognize their own perspectives and biases to make them better able to execute those strategies.

Read the article in full through Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups.