Quality Patient care

Dr. Adam Tabriz

3 Reasons Why Patient Engagement Always Makes Happy Patients

Overcoming Challenges Of Building Fruitfull Doctor-Patient Relationships Through Mutual Participation

Patient EngagementPhoto byImage by Robert Owen-Wahl from Pixabay

Patient engagement is a double-edged sword. Encouraging patients to make an informed decision about their medical care and health comes with its sundry challenges. However, fostering positive behavior in challenging patients is even more resource intensive.

Generally speaking, in medical care vocabulary, challenging patients pertains to those with demanding clingers and entitled demeanors. Often complex patients try to manipulate their environment and often help-rejecting complainers with self-destructive behavior.

As mentioned earlier, challenging patients are every physician and healthcare worker's nightmare. That has become even more problematic with the introduction of value-based physician reimbursement policies.

The doctor-patient relationship is the cornerstone of every patient visit. Every encounter between a patient and their doctor is unique, and their personalities mold the nature of their interaction. With that in mind, the cultural and knowledge transition has developed a type of doctor-patient relationship over the decades. Meaning the active-passive pinnacle that was more prevalent traditionally has grown into the guidance and participation model and, today, the Mutual Participation style of interaction between doctors and patients.

Despite some validity to the challenging trait associated with particular patients or patient care scenarios, nevertheless, often, that is the reflection of subjective perception by the medical professional. Moreover, labeling challenging patients is the upshot of a failed doctor-patient relationship and failure to engage patients in their care.

It is expected that the physician can overlook the importance of patient needs and expectations. Furthermore, they can quickly fail to recognize what a disease or problem symbolically means to a patient. In other words, every patient's culture and personality often drive problematic doctor-patient relationships.

Overcoming The Patient Engagement Challenge Is The Solution To Challenging Patient

The most crucial necessity of patient engagement is establishing a stimulating backdrop for mutual participation between the doctor and the patient. Also, joint participation demands transparency, accountability, and understanding between the patient and the doctor.

In a mutually collaborative scenario, neither the patient nor the physician is accountable for the other party's decisions, given they both respect one another boundaries and expectations. For instance, a patient may seem challenging or problematic only if the doctor-patient relationship follows the more traditional "Active-Passive or the Guidance and Participation Model." Then again, there may be exceptions to the rule later. That is mainly if there is a secondary gain behind participants of a doctor-patient encounter.

Some other contributors to complex doctor-patient scenarios pertain to cases with a combination of multiple chronic conditions, mental health issues, medication-related problems, patients' health coverage policy terms, and social vulnerability. Nonetheless, these are all invariably destined to become simple if a physician establishes mutual participation domain with the patient or their next of kin if the patient cannot make decisions.

Patient engagement recedes challenging patient behaviors and creates a mutually productive relationship that works efficiently towards patients' needs and wants. It makes patients feel involved, educated, and comprehended. Thus it will facilitate patients' health literacy needs for the following three modifications: (1) Knowledgeable decision-making, (2) health behavior modification, and (3) chronic disease management.

Once one overcomes the obstacles associated with building a healthy doctor-patient relationship, the engaged patient and physician will be more willing to collaborate and respect boundaries and better able to make informed decisions about the patient's care options. Furthermore, they can use the available resources efficiently if patients' priorities align well with their healers, which is vital to the sustainability of the global healthcare system.


  1. Anstett, R. "The difficult patient and the physician-patient relationship." The Journal of family practice vol. 11,2 (1980): 281–6.
  2. Krist, Alex H et al. "Engaging Patients in Decision-Making and Behavior Change to Promote Prevention." Studies in health technology and informatics vol. 240 (2017): 284–302.

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