Elizabeth Fradd: why communication and information matter

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  • Posted:Wednesday 19 December 2012

Elizabeth Fradd, explores the importance of language and communication in delivering high-quality, patient-centred health care. She focuses on her experience as a health care professional, investigator and an observer, giving a personal account of her mother's treatment.

You can download the full transcript from Elizabeth Fradd's presentation:   Elizabeth Fradd: why communication and information matter and the slides.

From our person-centred integrated care event.


Dr Malcolm Rigler

GP North Somerset with Special Interest in Public Health,
North SOmerset PCT
Comment date
23 December 2012
Elizabeth reminds me of the lines in a song by Cat Stevens the singer song writer which go "they put you where they choose with the language that they use" . I have often seen and heard patients being put down and feeling put out by the powerful GP or hospital consultant . Most often such patients and also their carers feel that they have no voice , no way to say "wait a minute I am not stupid, I can understand things perfectly well if you would just stop using medical terms and jargon and take the time and trouble to put yourself in my shoes and try harder to use words and terms that I can understand" . Some years ago ,aware of these issues, David Weatherall wrote in a BMJ editorial entitled "The Inhumanity of MEdicine" that "we seem to be becoming a profession of uncaring technocrats" . This subsequently led to the National Network of "arts in health" organisations that is gaining strength year by year. Given just a little support from the NHS commissioning board this Network would be able to address this "wicked problem" in new and interesting ways right across the NHS . There has never been a time when those interested in the arts - including the spoken word - and medical science / medical practice have needed each other more and yet, and yet , significant barriers between the arts and the practice of medicine and healthcare continue to exist in the hearts and minds of so many who are in positions of authority and control . Let's hope that Elizabeth's words are heard widely around the NHS and beyond and that they act as a bridge between artists,story tellers , poets and actors and those of us involved in face to face patient care. Maybe the Kings Fund could pick up this theme by giving space and time to Prof McManus and his idea mentioned in the Lancet some years ago that we need a Dept of Theatrical Medicine - not just to tackle "burn out" in health professionals but also to improve the way in which we try to communicate with our patients.

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