Avoiding labeling patients 
as noncompliant

Clinicians should avoid labeling their patients as noncompliant.
Clinicians should avoid labeling their patients as noncompliant.

Sam Mbugua, MD, wrote about using analogies for education [Advisor Forum, December 2015]. I agree that teaching requires visual aids and any other method of teaching and learning that can be used to convey a point of understanding. However, he starts his comment with the word "noncompliance." Really? I was told in my masters program in the 1980s to never label a patient as noncompliant. My professors said that use of that word only indicates that you do not know why the patient is making the decision that he or she is making. I work hard to educate patients, friends, and families, but if education, lecturing, and pushing information toward people changed behavior, we would not have any overweight healthcare personnel. All physicians and nurses would be exercising and eating their fruits and vegetables. Instead, the first question one should ask is why has the patient made the choice that he or she made. Current research on various models of healthcare beliefs, behavioral changes, and motivational interviewing can determine if lack of understanding is the true reason for the choices that the patient has made.—BETH LANDIS, RN, MSN, Salt Lake City, Utah (208-4)


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