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Applying motivational interviewing techniques to palliative care communication

Kathryn I Pollak, Julie W Childers, Robert M Arnold
Journal of Palliative Medicine 2011, 14 (5): 587-92
Palliative care relies heavily on communication. Although some guidelines do address difficult communication, less is known about how to handle conversations with patients who express ambivalence or resistance to such care. Clinicians also struggle with how to support patient autonomy when they disagree with patient choices. Motivational Interviewing (MI) techniques may help address these responses. Specifically, MI techniques such as reflective statements and summarizing can help reduce a patient's resistance, resolve patient ambivalence, and support patient autonomy. Not all the MI techniques are applicable, however, in part because palliative care clinicians do not guide patients to make particular choices but, instead, help patients make choices that are consistent with patient values. Some elements from MI can be used to improve the quality and efficacy of palliative care conversations.


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