Feeling good about yourself doesn’t just help you live a happier and more successful life. As it turns out, patient self-esteem can have a significant impact on a person’s physical wellbeing, too.
Those with a negative sense of self can experience more trouble healing from injury, recovering from surgery, coping with disease and following their provider’s care plan.
In fact, a 2013 study published by Europe PMC not only found a link between self-esteem and quality of life, but also uncovered a strong relationship between a patient’s self-esteem and the duration of their illness. And developing a condition with serious side effects can exacerbate existing feelings of worthlessness, compounding the issue.
In other words, addressing your patient’s confidence and morale, and ensuring they feel empowered, is critical for driving better outcomes.
And as a nurse, you have more frequent and prolonged interaction with patients than possibly any other healthcare professional. That means you’re in a unique position to make a meaningful impact on your patients’ mental health.
Here are three tips to help you boost patient self-esteem:
Leverage Active Listening
When people have a low sense of self-worth, they often feel like no one is listening to them or cares about what they have to say. When healthcare providers rush through conversations and fail to acknowledge their concerns, it can dampen patients’ confidence and make them less likely to confide in you or other members of their care team in the future.
Active listening, however, can help patients feel more self-assured. This requires you to give patients your full attention, listen carefully, reaffirm their comments and respond as necessary.
Here are a few ways to demonstrate active listening:
- Maintain eye contact
- Sit or stand facing the patient
- Smile (when appropriate)
- Avoid distractions (i.e., looking at your watch or checking your phone)
- Ask relevant questions
- Nod or use verbal affirmations like, “I see” or “Mmhmm”
- Repeat back a summary of their comments
Develop a Natural Rapport
To boost self-esteem, you have to make patients feel comfortable. One way to achieve this is by developing a natural conversation beyond discussions of their condition and treatment. Ask them questions about their family, pets, career and hobbies to engage them, or offer a genuine compliment. Do your best to find common ground, such as a shared interest, to help form a bond and earn their trust.
Showing authentic interest gives people a confidence boost and helps improve the overall patient experience. Building a rapport is also a useful distraction tactic when treating patients who are nervous or experiencing needle phobia. By steering the topic away from any impending procedures, patients will feel calmer and more at ease.
Involve Patients in Developing Their Care Plan
One of the best things you can do to improve patient self-esteem, drive better outcomes and increase patient satisfaction, is to involve them when creating their care plan. Collaborative care plans are one of the cornerstones of patient-centered care.
Start by educating patients (and approved loved ones) about their condition and providing all the information they need to assist in the decision-making process. Ask about their preferences and ensure the care plan aligns with their values, beliefs and lifestyle. The more collaborative your process, and the more the patient participates, the more they’ll feel empowered to follow it.
A positive patient experience is essential to positive outcomes. Learn how Gebauer’s Pain Ease can help your organization better serve its patients in this free guide.