Communicating Clearly

The health Care Professionals in St. James’s Hospital are expected to communicate to you about your health in a way that is easy to understand. This includes talking to you or providing written information. 


What can the patient do?

The National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) recommends that patients should be more confident in their communication with health professionals.  Research has shown that people aged 15 - 34 years were least likely to ask a doctor, nurse or pharmacist to explain things they don’t understand.  Embarrassment was ranked as the main reason for not seeking more information from a healthcare professional (24%).

Questions to ask

There are three simple questions patients should ask of their doctor, nurse or pharmacist during every visit.
1.    What is my main problem?
2.    What do I need to do?
3.    Why is it important for me to do this?

Be prepared

Sometimes it’s difficult to remember everything you wanted to know or ask your doctor or health care worker. One way to avoid sometimes unsatisfactory health consultations is to be prepared. Write a note of any questions or concerns you have before your appointment so you don’t forget anything important.  Be sure to ask your healthcare provider to explain any complicated language in plain English.

Check your understanding

Often it is useful to check your understanding of what has been said to you by explaining the information back to your healthcare provider.  That way they can be sure you understood the discussion and can correct anything you may have misunderstood.

Useful links