Look for and initiate "teachable moments" for prevention.
- When the patient visit directly pertains to a related concern (sunburn, moles, etc.).
- During routine physical examinations.
- When the patient refers to related topics (desire to quit smoking, concerns about family history, etc.).
- Have prevention information materials available in waiting rooms.
- Consider having sun screen samples available.
- By observing risk factors (life style, number of existing nevi, multiple atypical nevi, etc.).
General Advice on Counselling Techniques
- Use open ended questions ("What" and "How" questions are effective). Avoid "Why" questions which provoke defensiveness.
- Use active listening skills to demonstrate your interest in the patient's response (eye contact, appropriate body language, not interrupting).
- Use empathetic responses to demonstrate you understand (this is different from agreeing).
- Roll with resistance.
- Acknowledge and support the patient's right to make autonomous choices.
Assess the patient's readiness for acting on prevention advice
- Determine the level of awareness of risk.
- Discover and discuss how important this is to the patient.
- Assess the patient's conviction to implement prevention suggestions.
Discussions with unaware or cynical patients
- Provide new information.
- Offer help when ready.
- Accept the situation and the patient.
When language or literacy may be an issue
- Limit your advice to a few key points.
- Use visual aids and demonstrations to support your words.
- Adjust the message to fit the patient's context (suitable examples, appropriate language level).
Stephen Hansen, M.A.(Ed.)
Provincial Education Leader