Hola a tod@s, my dear friends.

Just published in Intensive Care Medicine, we share today a summary of the article Non-verbal communication to restore patient–provider trust. Very interesting putting the focus on attitudes that many times go unnoticed. Here it is:

JH was admitted to the trauma unit after being crushed between two buses. She had a fracture of pelvis, shattered thigh and third degree burns in the left leg. During her stay in ICU she suffered a lung embolism and intestinal ischemia that needed surgery.

In addition, she was in an unknown country and she can´t understand and speak the local language. She was alone and under mechanical ventilation, so her communication was based on non-verbal one.

Psychologists talk on a formula of 55/38/7: 55% body language, 38% tone of voice, and 7% words. Non-verbal communication helps in building confidence.

Psychological studies in the Decade of 1970 and 1980 revealed that different cultures facial expressions correspond to six emotions: happiness, sadness, surprise, disgust, anger and fear and possibly other emotions like interest and shame.

Non-verbal communication consists of body posture, the act of hearing, touch, facial expression, body language, mimicking gestures and feelings. To nursing, the posture is essential in active listening: this act can help heal the emotional wound of patients and families. Be listener must be a compromise, and the body language creates a safe environment to speak freely.

JH says: “Before my parents arrived, I was very lonely. I was too nervous to sleep, and I could not communicate verbally. One of the nurses came into my room, and began to speak to me in English and to wash my hair. She gave me a massage gently. Her touch reassured me and put me at ease “.

The power of touch reduces anxiety in patients, because it is the universal language of care. We can touch during interventions and convey emotion, so you have to watch out for what you want to convey: an aggressive contact will feel unsafe patient and both lose information. On the other hand, we can transmit calmness and understanding.

“I was a broken body, and also a broken soul. My vulnerability was extreme: I cannot controlled my body, limited to bed and unable to speak. How people played and looked at me became more and more sensitive, because that was the level of communication I have”.

Nurses are responsible for creating the environment for a patient to heal. This is a space that has to be safe and nurturing, with the practitioner acting as a confident guide through the healing process, a translator between doctors, families. Communication has to be natural, because patients detect whether this is genuine or automated.

The trust built with non-verbal communication is part of the patient’s treatment and improves outcomes.

Establishing trust with patients through communication – verbal and non-verbal – is fundamental to working with our patients toward a full recovery.

Exciting! The world of the small details that makes the difference.

Happy Wednesday,