Assessing explanatory models and health beliefs: an essential but overlooked competency for clinicians
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It is commonly accepted among health professionals that asking about explanatory models (EMs) can be used as a powerful tool to strengthen the therapeutic alliance between health professionals and patients, maximize collaboration, improve communication and ultimately enhance clinical outcomes. The ways people perceive, interpret and respond to suffering is not only mediated by cultural and social contexts, but also by the illness itself. However, when patients’ EMs significantly differ from the dominant standardized explanations offered by psychiatric research, such that patients’ treatment preferences are not easily fulfilled, significant dilemmas arise; to the extent should clinicians modify their practice and accommodate EMs into a treatment plan. This paper discusses the recent evidence on the use of EMs in clinical practice Some of the most common diagnostic categories for mental illnesses are presented with recent empirical evidence on how the exploration of EMs can help to shape future clinical practice and outcomes. Case studies are also provided to illustrate the dilemmas clinicians face when their EMs differ from those of their patients. The paper concludes with recommendations on how a culturally sensitive clinical approach based on the exploration of EMs during assessment and treatment is an effective way to deal with the complexity of service users’ needs.
AuthorsDinos, S; Ascoli, M; Owiti, JA; BHUI, KS
- Centre for Psychiatry