How to turn conflict into collaboration when patients and physicians disagree

May 04, 2009

In an era when people are more informed about their care and more assertive with their physicians, an impasse can develop over issues as simple as a patient insisting on unnecessary tests or medications or as complicated as end-of-life care.

To help better prepare to deal with disagreements with patients, ACP Press, the book publishing program of the American College of Physicians, has just released "Breaking the Cycle: How to Turn Conflict Into Collaboration When You and Your Patients Disagree."

Written by George F. Blackall, PsyD, MBA; Steven Simms, PhD; and Michael J. Green, MD, FACP, MS, and inspired by their experience with a 12-year-old girl who struggled to take lifesaving medication, the authors offer a roadmap for helping physicians, patients, and families reduce conflict.

"Doctors want to help their patients and patients want to be helped by their doctors," said Dr. Blackall. "But sometimes even with the most experienced physicians, doctors and patients can't agree."

"Breaking the Cycle" explains how physicians can understand, approach, and resolve physician-patient conflicts in a way that breaks down barriers and builds stronger, more gratifying relationships.

For example, if the patient disagrees with a diagnosis and prescribed treatment, the doctor might find it helpful to switch from the "physician-as-expert" model to the "physician-as-collaborator" model. Both of these approaches are discussed in the book with case examples that bring them to life.

Based on principles and proven techniques from the field of family therapy, "Breaking the Cycle" features:

  • real-life experiences and case studies that show how impasses arise and how to best respond
  • a systematic approach that helps physicians overcome impasses by building relationships with their patients, not withdrawing from them
  • knowledge, insights, and experience of an internist, a health psychologist, and a family therapist
A recent study found that primary care physicians who experience a high number of difficult encounters are more likely to report burnout and providing suboptimal care.

"By developing a broader range of skills to deal with conflicts, physicians can focus on what really matters -- providing quality health care to ," said Dr. Blackall.

More information: "Breaking the Cycle" can be ordered online at www.acponline.org/acppress .

Source: American College of Physicians

Explore further: New research demonstrates benefits of national and international device registries

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

ACP recommends routine HIV screening for all patients

Dec 01, 2008

On World AIDS Day, the American College of Physicians (ACP) is giving doctors a call-to-action to routinely encourage HIV screening to all of their patients older than 13 years. This new practice guideline appears on the ...

Recommended for you

New approach to particle therapy dosimetry

5 hours ago

Researchers at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), in collaboration with EMRP partners, are working towards a universal approach to particle beam therapy dosimetry.

Supplement maker admits lying about ingredients

Dec 17, 2014

Federal prosecutors say the owner and president of a dietary supplement company has admitted his role in the sale of diluted and adulterated dietary ingredients and supplements sold by his company.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.