Words matter: Effective language and communication when managing back pain- how to help and not harm

Sunday  9 June  2019  10:00 AM    Sunday  9 June  2019 1:00 PM
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Last update 10/06/2019

Patients with back pain who consult a musculoskeletal healthcare professional expect and desire a diagnosis and information for their problem.

However, the words we use to shape our responses and convey messages to patients in pain, have the potential to heal (facilitate recovery) or have the capacity to harm (delay or impede recovery).

Many of the terms utilised by musculoskeletal therapists are underpinned by biomechanical and biomedical assumptions regarding pain and disability. Evidence suggests that musculoskeletal therapists from a range of professional backgrounds find it challenging to adopt a biopsychosocial approach and situate their communication in this model when interacting with patients.

Thereapists‘ choice of words can create either positive or negative thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviours. Words matter.

However, it can be tricky to walk the tightrope of balancing the patient‘s desires and expectations of receiving a pathoanatomical diagnosis for their pain, balanced with the current evidence-base, the biopsychosocial model and one’s professional expectations/indoctrination/identity.

This workshop will:

  • Review the application of the biopsychosocial model to the management of back pain.
  • Review the practical application of theoretical and research literature on key psychological factors in relation to back pain (eg fear avoidance, self efficacy, pain beliefs), and how language can influence these. 
  • Help you to appreciate the importance of language when talking with, treating and examining patients experiencing back pain
  • Critically reflect on your language used in your clinical practice
  • Introduce strategies to communicate helpful messages regarding low back pain which can contribute to enhanced patient engagement.

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BodyMatters Clinic , London, England, United Kingdom
BodyMatters Clinic , London, England, United Kingdom
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