Interpersonal communications in nursing practice - Key to Quality Health care (2023)

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Introduction Conclusion FAQs Videos


Communication helps ion flow of knowledge from person to person and devlop better interpersonal relationships [1]. Communication and interpersonal skills are the most important factors for improving patient satisfaction, compliance and overall health outcome [2]. Interpersonal communication in recent years has played a pivotal role in successful job performance in any organization, health care been no exception. Nursing staff is the backbone of health care in any country. They are entrusted with the responsibility of delivering quality health services to patient and are not only the primary level of contact with patient but also spend maximum time with patients. The manner in which nursing staff communicates and takes care of patients influence the satisfaction level of patients and notably impact the health care outcome [3]. Nursing staff can make patients understand their illness and treatment and being the first level of contact gain confidence of patients making patients feel like second home. This eventually brings mental peace and creates harmonious environment. It therefore brings good health- physical, social and mental well being to patient’s i.e. holistic approach to patient care [4].

How communication affects patients and nurses

Communication failures leading to catastrophe have been well experienced in health care .One such instance been the wrong administration of medication leading to compromised patient safety. The type of nursing care determines the incidence of revisit of patients to the hospital and therefore can serve as a good yardstick of goodwill and satisfaction of any health care institution among general population.

Advantages of effective communication [4-8]

1.Compliance-Better Compliance with guidelines of accreditation bodies and regional guidelines.

2.Safety- Minimize medication errors enhancing patient safety.

3.Patient’s happiness quotient-It improves patient satisfaction, results in recovery, alleviating anxiety, depression and seclusion.

(Video) Interpersonal Communication and Healthcare

4.Job satisfaction- The positive feedback from patients helps to reduce stress to certain extent, imparting good job satisfaction.

5.Decision making- In times where patient autonomy and patient’s right to determine what shall be done to his/ her body, the decision.

Interpersonal communication in nursing

Nursing staff plays the role of leader in patient care especially at times when the person (patient) is unable to take control of his/ her day to day activities due to debilitating disease or infirmity [9]. “Caring is nursing, and nursing is caring” as stated by Kallergis [10]. Watson defined nursing as a Relationship between two human beings in mutual agreement, one of them as ‘provider’ and the second one as ‘receiver’ [11]. Casey and Wallis [12], stressed on the importance of developing a mutually agreed relationship and inculcating patient centric nursing skills to bring out the best in terms of patient care. The hallmark of nursing training and practice was patient centric care. This is the most vital interpersonal relationship in health care and it is a therapeutic interaction that ensures that patient needs are always on top priority irrespective of patient’s attitude thereby putting the entire onus on nursing [13].

There is no iota of doubt that the nursing staff is the backbone of individualized patient care. They are entrusted with the responsibility of delivering tailored patient specific treatment, providing necessary information to patients – attendants and by providing as well as creating an environment that is best conducive for patient [14]. They also have to mediate between doctor and patient and create a communication bridge so that optimum results of treatment are achieved [15]. One can say that care and communication are just the two sides of the same coin they are inseparable and are complimentary to each other [14-16].

Peplau’s theory [17,18], is one of the greatest works in the field of nursing relationships and interpersonal communications and it emphasize on reciprocity between nurses and patients.

The theory is based on following assumption:

(Video) Proper Patient Care - Communication Techniques

1) Both nurse and patient can interact,

2) This interaction helps them to evolve and mature.

3) The two fundamental tools in nursing are- communication and interpersonal skills.

4) Nurses must clearly understand themselves in order to promote their patient’s growth and to prevent the limitation of patient’s choices to those that nurse’s value.

The theory involves interactions between nursing, society or environment, health and man. It describes the relationship into five different phases.

Phase 1: Orientation Phase

(Video) CNA Nursing Assistant Model Curriculum Module Three - Communication and interpersonal skills

The first and foremost formal phase for building therapeutic relationship coordinated by the nurse involving patients in their treatment addressing to their queries and information pertaining to treatment. The manner in which the nurse introduces herself / himself to the patient showing warmth, empathy and care in this introductory phase is the key factor that promotes interpersonal relationship between nurse and patient. It may start by introduction of nurse to the patient and addressing patients by their formal name initially and then can be inquired whether they prefer it or any not. One of the important ingredient of effective communication is two way communication, allowing patients to speak and listen carefully as it is in this phase that maximum data is collected. The nursing assessment requires accurate data gathered from patients and calls for effective two way communication between nurses and patients. Once the patient has been greeted, their anxiety decreased the patient is primed for participation in relationship. The nurse describes their role to patients and other information relevant to patient. As no two individuals are alike so is their working style, the same holds true for nursing professionals. The information gathered by them may vary and it is imperative not to overlook this part of the relationship as the exterior part of the real work. There is need for nurse to have open mind so that they are able understand patients’ problem and the need for the treatment, and respond appropriately. The orientation phase commences with the decision to treat.

Phase 2: Identification Phase

The patient and nurse work together to clarify problems and set specific goal and in fact this phase is the working one. In this phase, nurses can help patients in exploring their hidden fears and apprehensions as well as identify their personal strengths and resources. In this way they can direct their energy towards helpful actions. These actions have beneficial effect on patient care , recovery and treatment effectiveness.

Phase 3: Exploitation Phase

The practical work of nurse-patient relationship happens during exploitation, the nurse guides patient in optimum health facility utilization and attainment of mutually decided goals of therapeutic interventions.

Phase 4: Resolution Phase

(Video) Medical communication skills challenge — Interprofessional conflict, introduction, version 1

This phase culminates in ending a therapeutic relationship [19]. The earlier targets achieved and new targets for treatment and care come up. The relationship was originally established with purpose and deep and meaningful sharing occurred between the nurse and patient. Whether it’s a short term or long term interaction both demand an end or resolution. Operating theater nurse may have a short term relationship with patient, where as a nurse in oncology unit may have a longer duration of relationship.

Phase 5: Termination Phase

The termination phase is marked by ending of professional relationship between the nurse and patient. Although it may be brief interaction only but it gives opportunity to evaluate their mutual achievements and revisit the time. The summary briefing to the patient can help both the parties for perceiving their mutual goals. There could be emotional bonding at the end. This ending of the relationship could bring emotional burst, feeling of loss, sadness but both have to accept it and move ahead. During termination phase, the nurse and patient identify possible unmet goals and some cases may require referral and follow-up care.

The patients may respond differently at this phase, they might show regression, anxiety, and act strangely superficial to the nurse or even become more dependent. The nurse has to prepare the patient for the termination of therapeutic relationship. The therapeutic nurse-patient relationship between the nurse and patient will end with a completeness and satisfaction that is rewarding for both the nurse and the patient.

Barriers to communication [20,21]

The barriers to effective communication can be broadly classified as those related t health care professionals, patient centric and environmental. Health care provider ( Nursing ) related barriers include deficiency in language particularly spoken language, excessive use of jargons, frequent interruptions, inexperience, pre occupation with personal matters and prejudice based on decision making. Many times patients are illiterate or poorly educated, superstitious and with pre conceived notions, their religious and cultural beliefs jeopardize the communication process. Environmental factors may also hinder the effective communication process like long stay on admission counter, lengthy discharge procedure and multiple counters for payments and reports collection as well as ergonomically poorly designed infrastructure that further makes communication with patients unsatisfactory.

How to improve

Communication with patients can greatly be improved by active listening to patients, keeping one self smiling, showing empathy towards patients, choice of soft words , use of appropriate language which patients can understand, greeting patients with enthusiasm , maintaining honesty, anticipating needs of patients, customizing and giving personalized care, creating a conductive environment , ending relationship in a manner where patient’s needs are top priority, ensuring safety of patient , helping them in decision making and meeting out challenges supported by evidence based training.

(Video) Effective Communication in Healthcare Organizations

The basic of interpersonal communication building relies on principles that they are inescapable, irreversible, complicated and contextual. Putting in other way round, they never occur in isolation. Nowadays, they are designated as ‘soft skills’, which in our opinion is misnomer as these are ‘hard skills’, which need to be learnt and affect your work performance, career and personal life. Communication has different facets .Psychological context of communication covers employee desires, needs, values, personality etc. Relational context refers to interactions with others. Situational context is psycho-social whereas environmental context deals with physical attributes of place of communication like furniture, location, premises, noise, time of day, ambience of work place. The cultural context also affects type of behavior for instance one can be from a culture where making a long direct eye contact may be insolent to a different cultural background where it is considered reliable [22]. It is imperative that designing a training for communication skill learning, the coordinators emphasize on various domains .

Role and responsibility of organizations

The organization cannot shred away from their responsibility towards the behavior of their staff. They need to develop strategy, align and engage employee’s workforce by putting key elements in place including motivation, ‘fit for objective’ structure, talented leadership and operative people system. The organization should evolve process like communication to all key stakeholders including nurses stating clearly what, why, when and how the goals can be achieved. They should develop process to ensure that leaders who have knowledge and skills to take action, aligning energy and resources towards fulfillment of strategy. Essentially, the organization should also develop fair, transparent process to measure success, maintain respect of nurses, satisfy their needs and defend their rights without manipulation, dominating or abusing them.


Good communicate on between nurses and a patient is of vital significance as it provides patients with individualized care. Nurses who take the time to understand the unique challenges and concerns of their patients will be better prepared to advocate on their behalf and properly address issues as they arise. The attention given to the patient makes patients more compliant with treatment and imparts feeling of safety, affection and confidence, all of which are important during a patient’s treatment and recovery. Therefore, this aspect in healthcare should never be neglected and reinforced with training, learning and practice of soft skills.


Why is interpersonal communication important in nursing? ›

Those who are skilled communicators help establish trust with patients and elicit cooperative responses to treatment plans. By demonstrating interpersonal skills in nursing, registered nurses can also establish positive relationships with their peers. This ongoing, positive rapport can have a far-reaching impact.

What is effective interpersonal communication in healthcare? ›

One study defines interpersonal communication in healthcare as “the ability of the provider to elicit and understand patient concerns, to explain healthcare issues and to engage in shared decision-making if desired.” It's more than just what you say—though that is a big part of the puzzle.

What are the 4 elements of interpersonal communication? ›

There are four types of interpersonal communication — oral, verbal, nonverbal, and listening — and mastering each of these is key to success in the modern workplace.

What are 4 ways we can develop good interpersonal relationships in the health care field? ›

Tips for Better Interpersonal Sensitivity in the Healthcare Setting
  • Build Good Rapport as Soon as Possible. Part of establishing rapport is setting the patient at ease or being sure they are comfortable talking to you. ...
  • Listen to and Understand the Patient's Perspective. ...
  • Demonstrate Empathy. ...
  • Collaborate for the Best Result.

What is the importance of interpersonal communications? ›

Interpersonal communication skills can improve your personal and professional relationships by helping you to express your thoughts and convey your intent clearly. Additionally, you'll be more able to understand and empathise with others due to your listening skills.

Why is effective communication and interpersonal skills so important in healthcare? ›

Interpersonal communication skills influence the quality of decisions made, as well as the level of patient motivation to follow treatment protocols and achieve desired clinical outcomes.

What are the 5 purposes of interpersonal communication? ›

We communicate to: 1) exchange information, 2) create, develop and maintain interpersonal relationships, 3) influence others, 4) de ne and give meaning to persons' experiences, 5) Create a shared social reality for self and other.

What are the strategies for effective interpersonal communication? ›

Strategies for effective verbal communication
  • Focus on the issue, not the person. ...
  • Be genuine rather than manipulative. ...
  • Empathize rather than remain detached. ...
  • Be flexible towards others. ...
  • Value yourself and your own experiences. ...
  • Use affirming responses.

What are the five 5 principles of interpersonal communication? ›

▶ The model includes five important elements: SENDER, MESSAGE, RECEIVER, FEEDBACK, AND BARRIERS. FIGURE 2-1. The interpersonal communication model.

What are the 3 example of interpersonal communication? ›

Some examples of interpersonal communication skills include active listening, openness, and empathy.

What are the 7 main areas of interpersonal communication? ›

The seven Interpersonal Communication Skills that Drive IT Manager Success are:
  • Empathetic Listening: As an IT manager, one of your most important skills is your ability to listen. ...
  • Purposeful Questions: ...
  • Effective Articulation: ...
  • Difficult Conversations: ...
  • Conflict Resolution: ...
  • Influence: ...
  • Negotiation:
10 May 2020

What are some of the most important elements in effective interpersonal communication in care? ›

The interpersonal communication model looks simple, having only six major elements: a sender, a receiver, a medium, encoding and decoding, and feedback. Information flows between sender and receiver. This flow represents both the core problem and the core opportunity.

What components are necessary for effective interpersonal communication? ›

Interpersonal communication consists of three elements: words, tone of voice and body language.

What are the principles of interpersonal relationship that nurse should follow? ›

Genuineness, report, empathetic understanding and concreteness – facilitate the formation of therapeutic nurse patient relationship/ interpersonal relationship.

Why is interprofessional communication important in healthcare? ›

Background. Effective interprofessional communication (IPC) between healthcare professionals promotes teamwork, improves patient care and boosts cost efficiency [1, 2]. IPC also encourages open, honest and frank discussions, facilitates negotiations and resolution of conflicts, and promotes shared decision making [3].

How can nurses communicate effectively? ›

The Top 10 Communication Skills in Nursing
  1. Nonverbal Communication. You can communicate a powerful message without saying a word, be it positive or negative. ...
  2. Active Listening. ...
  3. Personal Relationships. ...
  4. Inspire Trust. ...
  5. Show Compassion. ...
  6. Cultural Awareness. ...
  7. Educating Patients. ...
  8. Written Communication.
13 Sept 2022

What are the 3 characteristics of interpersonal communication? ›

Interpersonal communication has five key characteristics:
  • It involves independent individuals who each have their own goals, thoughts, and feelings.
  • It involves self-disclosure, or the revelation of personal information.
  • It is rational, meaning that it is meant to be understood.
  • It involves personal choice.
19 Jul 2021

What are the 6 types of interpersonal communication? ›

Bateman and Zeithaml identified six main styles of interpersonal communication that are used in business settings: controlling, egalitarian, structuring, dynamic, relinquishing, and withdrawal.

What is the most effective form of interpersonal communication? ›

Listening: You can make a good case for listening as the most important interpersonal communication skill. It covers the ability to listen attentively, whether you're using your ears to listen “in-person” or some other means, say, over the Internet.

What are some examples of positive interpersonal communication? ›

Practice active listening with family, friends, and coworkers – repeat what they've said back to them to ensure you're accurately listening. Try being friendly and chatty with colleagues. Practice leading a meeting or presentation. Be enthusiastic and engaged when interacting with people.

How do you explain interpersonal communication? ›

Interpersonal communication is the process of exchange of information, ideas and feelings between two or more people through verbal or non-verbal methods. It often includes face-to-face exchange of information, in a form of voice, facial expressions, body language and gestures.

What is interpersonal interaction in nursing? ›

Interpersonal relationship in nursing care can be defined, based on a theory 1 , as the interaction between two or more people who communicate, transfer values and energy from their roles in society. Such interaction is continuing, ranging from a low to high effectiveness ratio in nursing care.

What does interpersonal skills mean in nursing? ›

This information was analyzed, concluding that interpersonal skills in nursing are defined as the abilities of professional nurses to express their knowledge, abilities, attitudes, and values in relationships with colleages, patients, and their relatives and achieve a humane and person-centered practice.

How does the interpersonal relations theory benefit the nurse? ›

The theory explains nursing's purpose is to help others identify their felt difficulties and that nurses should apply principles of human relations to the problems that arise at all levels of experience.

What are the 5 principles of interpersonal communication? ›

▶ The model includes five important elements: SENDER, MESSAGE, RECEIVER, FEEDBACK, AND BARRIERS. FIGURE 2-1. The interpersonal communication model.

What are the 3 examples of interpersonal skills? ›

Some examples of interpersonal communication skills include active listening, openness, and empathy.

What are examples of good interpersonal skills nursing? ›

Necessary Interpersonal Skills for Nurses

In addition to medical knowledge, nurses must be good listeners, effective with verbal and written communications, must possess patience, patience and more patience, emotional stability and humor.

What is interpersonal communication examples? ›

Interpersonal communication is often defined as communication that takes place between people who are interdependent and have some knowledge of each other: for example, communication between a son and his father, an employer and an employee, two sisters, a teacher and a student, two lovers, two friends, and so on.

What is the best example of good interpersonal skills? ›

Typical examples of interpersonal skills include empathy, active listening, and emotional intelligence. Interpersonal skills permeate all areas of life and are equally important in both personal and professional interactions.

What are 5 benefits of good interpersonal relationships? ›

Advantages and Disadvantages of Interpersonal Relationships (Advantages…
  • Less loneliness. Having the feeling that someone cares. ...
  • Gain self knowledge and self-esteem. Gives you the opportunity to see yourself in a different perspective. ...
  • Enhance physical and emotional health. ...
  • Minimize pain. ...
  • Secure stimulation.

Why is interpersonal effectiveness important? ›

Interpersonal skills are important for communicating and working with groups and individuals in your personal and professional life. People with strong interpersonal skills tend to build good relationships and can work well with others. They understand family, friends, coworkers and clients well.


1. Clinical communication skills - explanation Skills
(University of Nottingham)
2. Effective Communication in Nursing | Clinical Tip #3
(Avant Healthcare Professionals)
3. 4 Essential Nursing Communication Skills & How to Boost Them
(Talent and Skills HuB)
4. Tune into Health | Communication and interpersonal skills in Nursing.
5. The role of health communication in patient safety and quality of care
(Consumers Health Forum of Australia)
6. Communication Skills: A Patient-Centered Approach
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