Interpersonal Skills and Healthcare Practice

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Interpersonal skills are essential in the work of healthcare providers. The most important of them are active listening, communication, attitude, compassion, team work and problem solving. This paper will analyze an example when some of these skills are used in practice.

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Besides, it will identify the key components for testing the importance of the identified interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills are necessary for delivering the health care of high quality and ensuring that patients feel comfortable with health professionals.

Part 1

The situation happened between a patient and a physician. The patient came to the physician because she had some weakness, headache, fewer, cough and chest pain. Since the patient was a young Muslim woman, she wanted to replace her male physician with a female specialist. She explained her doctor that the religion forbids her to be touched by men. However, the physician ignored her request. He told the patient that she had to think about these limitations earlier. When the woman started to explain her symptoms, it seemed that the physician did not listen to her and was thinking about some own issues. In addition, he was talking fast and was using complex vocabulary so that the patient could not understand him well due to language barriers. Although the physician made a right diagnosis and made prescriptions, the woman was completely frustrated.

The situation includes such interpersonal skills as active listening, attitude and communication. All of them contributed negatively to the situation, because the physician did not demonstrate them properly. As a result, the patient felt uncomfortable during and after the doctor’s observation. Additionally, the woman had to violate the rules of her religion. Besides, poor understanding of the physician’s explanations might have negative impact on the patient’s treatment, because she did not trust her doctor.

The positive side of this situation is that all skills can be improved. First, the physician can enhance his skills of active listening. In the discussed situation, instead of thinking of other issues, he could keep eye contact with the patient. Besides, the healthcare provider could summarize and paraphrase the words of the patient to demonstrate the woman that he was listening to her (O'Toole, 2016). Second, the physician can improve his communication skills. For example, in the discussed case, he could speak more slowly and use simpler vocabulary to reduce language barrier (Boyd Dare, 2014). Finally, the health provider can enhance his attitude. In the discussed situation, instead of ignoring the cultural needs of the patient, he could demonstrate understanding and compassion. For example, he could ask some of his colleagues to observe the patient instead of him or at least explain politely that it is impossible. Improvements of the physician’s interpersonal skills would enhance the quality of healthcare; particularly, the patient might have been more satisfied and confident after the visit to the hospital.

Part 2

The Testable Hypothesis

If physicians respect patients’ cultural needs, the patients recover faster.

Experimental Control Group

The control group is patients, whose cultural needs are neglected. For example, this can be a Muslim woman who has to visit a male health provider despite prohibitions of her religion. The experimental group is patients, whose cultural needs are respected.

Experimental Design

The hypothesis will be tested using only post-test design. There will be two groups. Both of them will be composed randomly. One group will be experimental one, while another group will be control one. The groups will not be tested before their visits to physicians. Healthcare providers will respect cultural needs of patients only from the experimental group. The post-test will be performed with both groups. To make the results reliable, physicians will not change other factors.

Possible Obstacles

Several obstacles exist in using the scientific method. First, the treatment depends on numerous variables, so that it is very hard to keep all the conditions the same except cultural needs. Besides, cultural needs are also a quite vague concept, because it consists of numerous things, including norms of verbal and nonverbal communication, some religious norms and cultural values. The cultural needs of some patients are very different from American culture, while others are almost the same. As a result, it would be hard to determine all the cultural needs of patients before the experiment. Another obstacle is the character of patients’ health issues and their treatment. The type of health issues might affect the ways in which patients respond to ignoring or respecting their cultural needs. It might be necessary to choose participants with the same health problems. In this way, the most significant obstacles are inability to consider all the conditions affecting patients’ recover from diseases and difficulties in respecting all cultural needs.


All in all, interpersonal skills do affect the quality of healthcare practice. If the physician lacks some of interpersonal skills, the patient might respond worse to the treatment assigned. The example with the Muslim woman demonstrates that poor skills of active listening, communication and attitude might make the patient feel uncomfortable and frustrated during and after the visit to the physician. Improving interpersonal skills would make the patient more confident about the treatment. It was offered to test the impact of respecting patients’ needs on their recovery from disease. The cultural needs of patients from the control group will be completely ignored. The outcomes of such attitude will be tested. Some obstacles to the use of scientific method are expected. First, it would be difficult to provide the same conditions for all patients, because recovery depends on numerous factors. Second, it might be hard to consider all cultural needs of all patients. Finally, patients might respond differently to ignoring or respecting their cultural needs due to some individual factors.