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Optional - Tips to Help Physicians Discuss Skin Cancer Prevention with Patients

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
BC Cancer

SOURCE: Optional - Tips to Help Physicians Discuss Skin Cancer Prevention with Patients ( )
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