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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

How patients hear their diagnoses can change everything about what happens next

This story is a good example of the communication principles of encoding and decoding. Encoding is how the messages is formatted (words, phraseology, grammar and body language) by the sender/speaker. Decoding is how that message is interpreted by the recipient. In communication, it is the obligation of the speaker to encode the message in a manner that may be most meaningful to the recipient. This means the same content may be encoded in different ways for different recipients. This may be especially challenging when speaking to an audience comprised of individuals requiring different encoding formats. As the encoder you do not have control over how your message is decoded, but if you have reasonable awareness of the recipients literacy level and communication style, you may flex your communication style (encoding) to better meet the objective of effective communication. A tactic to verify that your message was decoded in the way you desired is by "teach back"--tell me what you understood about what I just said.
from Rajesh Harrykissoon, MD

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