16 Feb

How can psychology inform high-quality, patient-centered care?

Posted By Politybooks

Increasingly, nurses, alongside other healthcare professionals are under public and political scrutiny.  In recent years, there have been high profile cases of  failures of care leading to high mortality rates, where care staff have been described as showing a “disturbing lack of compassion towards patients” (Francis, 2013).  One of the key recommendations following the inquiry at Mid Staffordshire Hospital for example, was that “there should be an increased focus on a culture of compassion and caring in nurse recruitment,training and education”.  High profile cases, such as Mid Staffordshire, highlight how the ability to listen, respond and engage therapeutically with patients is pivotal to delivering person-centered and collaborative care.

But how?

A central theme in our upcoming book, Psychology for Nursing, is the importance of subjectivity. How can nurses understand the subjective experience of being a patient?  Alongside the importance of subjectivity, a second central theme explored is the binary concept of health and illness. Viewing people as either healthy or ill,diseased or disease-free is a fundamentally flawed perception. We actually exist on a continuum of health (or ill-health, if you like) that constantly changes.  Our subjective experience of our health and well-being is influenced by internal and external factors – and the interaction between these two.  As our circumstances change, so does our subjective experience of our health status .

It’s clear that nurses need to develop an understanding of the shifting nature of patients’ health experiences. To do this, they need to understand the clinical encounter and, in particular, the psychological aspects of the clinical counter. Only then can they develop a skillset to respond effectively to patients.

Psychology for Nursing aims to help nurses do just this. Aimed at undergraduate and postgraduate nurses, the book draws not only on psychology as a generic discipline, but also on health psychology to understand how nurses can work in partnership with patients in order to deliver high quality patient-centered care.

With nurses increasingly being held to public and professional account, how can psychology equip nurses of the future to contribute to the delivery high quality, patient-centered care? 

Alison Torn is a lecturer in psychology at Leeds Trinity University.
Psychology for Nursing, co-written by Alison Torn and Pete Greasley, is available now, published by Polity.