Breaking down the barriers

Carefully study this picture.  Jot down in your notebook which of the barriers listed below could be in place in this situation?

What are the common barriers to good communication in healthcare settings?

There are a number of barriers to good communication particularly within the healthcare setting and these may differ according to individual circumstances,  available resources and the characteristics and structures of the community in which you are providing care. We will provide more information on each of these as we continue through the course.

  • Fear: If our anxiety is visible it makes the family and patient anxious and prevents them from hearing the message.

  • Avoidance: Not talking about something does not mean we are not communicating. It alerts the listener to what is not being said and can cause more anxiety.

  • Culture: Cultural differences can become a barrier if there is a lack of connection.

  • Attitudes: A sense of superiority by the healthcare provider will prevent good communication.

  • Medical hierarchy: A doctor is usually held in high esteem, which can prevent people from challenging the doctor or asking questions.

  • Dress: Dress that is thought to be inappropriate can prevent good communication e.g. a short skirt or dirty shoes.

  • Body language: Defensive or aggressive body language will prevent good communication as people will feel the need to protect themselves..

  • Tone of voice: An authoritarian or a passive tone of voice will prevent open and honest communication.

  • Choice of words: Hiding behind medical knowledge and using medical terms can be intimidating and prevents a clear understanding of what is being said.