Addressing Differing Priorities or Goals through Patient Dialogue: A Key to Patient Empowerment

When it comes to healthcare, every patient has unique priorities and goals. Some may prioritize longevity, while others may prioritize quality of life. Some may have specific treatment preferences, while others may be open to a range of options. Addressing Differing Priorities or Goals through Patient Dialogue: A Key to Patient Empowerment provides guidance on how to engage in effective communication to understand and address diverse patient needs.

Key Takeaways:

addressing differing priorities or goals through patient dialogue

  • Assess patient knowledge and understanding of their illness and prognosis.
  • Determine patient’s willingness to receive health information.
  • Explore unacceptable health states and patient preferences.
  • Identify and address fears or worries to support decision-making.
  • Understand patient’s values, goals, and priorities in the context of their health condition.
  • Discuss treatment options and explore their potential benefits and risks.

Addressing Differing Priorities or Goals through Patient Dialogue

As a seasoned healthcare professional, I’ve witnessed countless instances where a patient’s priorities or goals differed from those of their healthcare team. Successfully navigating these differences is crucial for patient empowerment and optimal outcomes.

Uncover Hidden Differences

Often, patients’ priorities aren’t explicitly expressed. By engaging them in open dialogue, we can uncover their values, fears, and hopes. Questions like, “What matters most to you in your life right now?” can reveal insights that shape their care plan.

Explore Trade-offs

Patients may have conflicting desires, such as maximizing life expectancy versus preserving quality of life. Exploring these trade-offs allows us to find a balance that respects their individual preferences.

Facilitate Informed Decisions

Empowering patients requires providing them with clear information about their condition and treatment options. By discussing benefits, risks, and uncertainties, we enable them to make informed decisions aligned with their values.

Tailor Communication

Communication should be tailored to the patient’s individual needs. Some prefer blunt honesty, while others appreciate a more gentle approach. By gauging their willingness to receive information, we can adapt our communication style accordingly.

Respect Divergent Perspectives

It’s essential to respect that patients’ perspectives may differ from our own. Our role is to understand their worldview and help them navigate their healthcare journey within that context.

Benefits of Open Dialogue

Engaging in open dialogue with patients benefits both the patient and the healthcare team:

  • Improved patient satisfaction
  • Enhanced trust and rapport
  • Reduced anxiety and stress
  • Aligned treatment plans that prioritize patient values
  • Respect for patient autonomy

By embracing patient dialogue, we can foster a collaborative relationship that empowers patients to make informed decisions and achieve their healthcare goals.

For those times when you’re at odds with someone, you need to learn how to communicating through times of diverging needs or interests. That means being open to having open discussions when you’re no longer perfectly aligned. Sometimes you just grow apart, and that’s okay. Here are tips for navigating increasing separateness.

Explore underlying reasons for differing perspectives

To effectively address differing perspectives in healthcare, it’s crucial to explore underlying reasons for these differences. Understanding the motivations, values, and fears that shape patient beliefs and preferences is essential for tailoring communication and decision-making to individual needs.

Key Takeaways:

  • Respectful communication creates a safe space for open dialogue.
  • Active listening allows patients to express their perspectives uninterrupted.
  • Exploring underlying reasons for differing perspectives fosters empathy.
  • Seeking common ground strengthens critical thinking and communication skills.


  • Engage in open-ended conversations to elicit patient values and beliefs.
  • Use reflective listening to demonstrate understanding and encourage further elaboration.
  • Ask questions that delve into the “why” behind patient preferences.
  • Be mindful of non-verbal cues, as they can provide insights into hidden feelings or concerns.
  • Respect divergent perspectives and approach discussions with empathy and curiosity.

By exploring underlying reasons for differing perspectives, healthcare professionals can create a more patient-centered approach to care, ensuring that decisions align with patient values and goals.


  • Navigating Conflicts: Addressing Differences in Values or Beliefs

Facilitate shared decision-making

At the heart of patient-centered care lies **shared decision-making (SDM)**, a collaborative process that empowers patients to actively participate in their healthcare journeys alongside their healthcare providers.

SDM recognizes that each patient's values, goals, and preferences are unique and should guide treatment decisions. It shifts the focus from a provider-centric approach to a patient-centered one, fostering open dialogue and mutual respect.

**Key Takeaways:**

* **Shared decision-making** involves active participation from both patients and healthcare providers, ensuring that decisions align with the patient's values.
* Interventions, such as coaching, training, and decision aids, can enhance healthcare professionals' skills in **facilitating shared decision-making**.
* **Shared decision-making** leads to reduced decisional conflict, improved disease understanding, increased risk awareness, and higher decision satisfaction for patients.


[Interventions to facilitate shared decision-making using decision aids](

Tailor communication strategies to individual needs

Nobody likes the feeling of being talked down to, especially when it comes to their health. That’s why tailoring communication strategies to meet the needs of each individual patient is so important. When healthcare providers take the time to understand their patients’ cultural backgrounds, beliefs, and values, they can create a more effective and trusting relationship and improve patient outcomes.

For example, a study by the National Institutes of Health found that patients who received tailored educational materials about their condition were more likely to follow their treatment plans and experience better health outcomes. This is because the materials were written in a way that resonated with the patients’ individual needs.

Steps to Tailor Communication Strategies to Individual Needs:

  1. Get to know your patients. Ask them about their cultural backgrounds, beliefs, and values. What are their health goals? What are their concerns?
  2. Use language that your patients can understand. Avoid using medical jargon and acronyms. Explain things in a way that is clear and concise.
  3. Be respectful of your patients’ cultural beliefs. Don’t make assumptions about what your patients believe or value. Ask them questions and listen to their responses.
  4. Be patient. It takes time to build trust with patients. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. Just keep working at it and you will eventually see a difference.

Benefits of Tailoring Communication Strategies:

  • Improved patient satisfaction
  • Enhanced trust and rapport
  • Reduced anxiety and stress
  • Aligning treatment plans with patient values
  • Respecting patient autonomy

Key Takeaways:

  • Tailor communication strategies to meet the needs of each individual patient.
  • Use language that your patients can understand.
  • Be respectful of your patients’ cultural beliefs.
  • Be patient and keep working at it to build trust with patients.

National Institutes of Health. (2022, August 11). Tailored patient therapeutic educational interventions: A patient-centered approach to self-management. Retrieved from
addressing differing priorities or goals through patient dialogue


Q1: How can I effectively address differing priorities or goals in patient dialogue?

Q2: What strategies can I use to facilitate open and respectful communication when discussing these differences?

Q3: How do I balance my own professional values and beliefs with the priorities and goals of my patients?

Q4: What resources or tools are available to support patient dialogue and decision-making?

Q5: How can I ensure that patients’ cultural backgrounds and perspectives are considered in these discussions?