Physicians and psychologists' existential communication

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Existential, spiritual, and religious needs are found, not only in palliative patients, but also in patients with chronic diseases according to international studies. Studies show that patients with severe diseases want physicians to approach these needs, but knowledge is missing on if and how physicians do it.
In this Ph.D.-project, we study chronic ill patients’ existential, spiritual, and religious needs in a Danish culture in relation to their disease and treatment satisfaction. In addition, we investigate, how physicians and psychologists experience and communicate about the existential, spiritual, and religious needs with their chronic ill patients. Our approach is qualitative mainly with semi-structured interviews. The data collection takes place at departments treating patients with multiple sclerosis and chronic pain respectively.
The first impressions from interviews with physicians and video-records of consultations are that the physicians prioritise physiological aspects and lack a systematic approach considering the existential needs. This can be due to time pressure, a lack of knowledge or lack of training. Nevertheless, it contradicts the recommendations to a patient-centred approach in health care where biological, psychological, social, and existential needs are investigated and incorporated in treatment when relevant. Our study contributes to deepen the physicians’ approach, needs, and challenges in the existential communication.
The results of this project can be used in practice as well as for educational purposes. As a pilot-study the health professionals will be offered a training session to enhance knowledge and practice in existential communication. We will evaluate this intervention afterwards in relation to the health professionals’ experience of competence and relevancy in practice.
Translated title of the contributionLæger og psykologers eksistentielle kommunikation
LanguageEnglish
Publication date20 Oct 2018
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 20 Oct 2018