As the population ages and the incidence of chronic diseases and lifestyle-related conditions rises, nurses are increasingly required to provide care for people with a range of chronic conditions. The healthcare needs of patients are often complicated by comorbid conditions. Nurses deliver healthcare in the context of the patient's medical conditions, treatment regimens, the healthcare system, and the individual's socioeconomic, personal and family factors, which may include the challenges of social isolation and geographic distance. In such complex circumstances, patients may be perceived as ‘difficult’ or ‘challenging’, however, the challenge is not the patient themselves, but the relationship between the nurse and the patient. Communication difficulties can occur between nurses and patients, which may affect the therapeutic relationship and the quality of care provided. This article discusses the communication skills that nurses require to interact effectively with patients who have complex and chronic comorbid conditions. It focuses on therapeutic communication strategies and the nurse-patient relationship, while emphasising the need for nurses to be self-aware when caring for patients with complex healthcare needs.
Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2016.e9847Correspondence
All articles are subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software
Received: 10 December 2014
Accepted: 05 August 2016
Published online: 03 October 2016
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