Home / 10 ways to improve communication about pain

 Here are suggestions on ways to improve patient-provider communication about chronic pain. These items came directly from patients with chronic pain.

Start the visit by stating clearly that “We will be working together as a team.”

 The provider should:

  1. Take me seriously and respect my input
  2. Tell me about all options and their side effects
  3. Be knowledgeable about my particular condition
  4. Ask how I want to manage things; accept that I am in charge of my health
  5. Take the time needed, not rush
  6. Talk to me not the computer; make eye contact; read the medical file before (not during) the appointment
  7. Let me know that you have communicated with other doctors taking care of me
  8. Be encouraging; never leave me feeling utterly helpless, hopeless, or written off
  9. Have a trusting relationship with my provider
  10. Not judge me or look at me as if I’m faking it

Most of the patients we talked with felt that their doctors were not listening to them, did not respect them, and did not offer them an opportunity to be involved as an integral part of their treatment team. Many felt that their doctors were stigmatizing them for their pain or way of life.

Take a moment to ask for the patient’s thoughts, listen to their response, say “I hear you”, offer them options, take their concerns seriously. These simple things help build trusting relationships and can help patients heal.