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Whitney is a Master of Public Health student in the Health Behavior and Health Education department at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Prior to starting in the program, she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cameroon and worked in global health communication in Bethesda, Md.

Engaging providers and patients in care

This week, I’ve run across two opinion pieces dealing with the importance of health communication: a post in The Guardian online about nurses using social media to communicate and a piece on TechCrunch.com about communication being “the most important medical instrument.”

What I find interesting about, and a common theme with, both of these pieces is that they talk about health care providers being the ones to use communication methods to reach out to patients, which isn’t a new idea. But I’m still left wondering should patients be the ones to reach out to their providers? This has been addressed some in the health communication coverage I’ve seen, but if much of the emphasis is still just on increasing and streamlining doctors and nurses’ communication efforts to improve patient care, are the patients any more empowered?

What do you think? Who should be the first to reach out and communicate about health issues and treatment? The doctor or nurse providing the care? Or the patient receiving it? Or is the burden equal on both of their shoulders? And do you know about any programs where patients are encouraged to be the ones to reach out first? Please share if so!

Image courtesy Pearson Scott Foresman from Wikimedia Commons

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