I think respect and sensitivity are key here and making your patients comfortable enough to lower their barriers and trust you with themselves. When delivering primary care as a clinician, I can better connect with my patients in a welcoming and safe space.
In my culture, patients are reluctant to question and disagree with their doctor’s recommendations because it may be seen as disrespectful. The patient may refrain from asking questions, even if they do not understand the doctor’s instructions because they don’t want to waste the doctor’s time. To avoid confrontation and keep a harmonious patient-doctor relationship, the patient may leave their doubts and real opinions ambiguous or unspoken.
To overcome this barrier, I am the first to ask questions to demonstrate that it is not embarrassing to clarify. I tell my patients it’s normal to have questions and doubts. It’s better to clear any potential misunderstandings and fears before they become something more. If you show others that you can be vulnerable by asking questions, they feel they can also be open and less hesitant with you. This creates an open dialogue with shared decision-making rather than a top-down conversation. You want an equal partnership with your patient regarding their health.
– Dr. Oishi-Stamatiou, Toronto, Ontario