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Language matters in successful communication

By Colin Kenny, Editor – Diabetes Distilled

As the language used in interactions with patients can have a significant impact on how they perceive their condition, Diabetes UK has published a position statement addressing how healthcare professionals should use verbal and written language to build confidence, educate and help improve self-care in individuals who have diabetes. The charity facilitated a working group representing people with diabetes and key organisations to review the use of language. This group developed a set of principles, along with several illustrative examples, to guide healthcare professionals, with the goal of improving interactions with those living with diabetes.

How people living with diabetes, and those who care for them, experience their condition and feel about it can be profoundly affected by the language that healthcare professionals use. A working group was facilitated by Diabetes UK to address potential communiation issues. Diabetes UK has now published a document setting out practical examples of language that will encourage positive interactions with those living with diabetes, and subsequently promote positive outcomes. The document has narrative examples based on both national and international research and is supported by a simple set of principles.
The authors of the document emphasise that verbal and non-verbal language has enormous power. They stress that a person-centred approach should be taken to engagement, outlining where some words, phrases and descriptions are potentially problematic. They suggest that healthcare professionals avoid language that attributes responsibility, implies generalisations, stereotypes or prejudice. They particularly emphasise the importance of listening for a person’s own words or phrases about their diabetes, and exploring or acknowledging the meanings behind them.

To access the publication, click here

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