“Diabetes has ruined my life.”

“Diabetes has ruined my life,” said the patient.

Wow.

I felt sad for him. It’s a chronic illness. His life is ruined. Yet he was sitting there, robust and articulate. Why was he feeling so helpless and hopeless?

The best way to respond to a statement like this is assessment. Find out what the patient feels, believes, and understands. Listen until you fully understand the patient’s point of view. Gently ask questions for clarification. Understand where the patient is coming from before you intervene, so you don’t unintentionally harm the therapeutic relationship.

Then the health coaching can begin.

Yes, patient education takes some time. But done well, it can move mountains. It can change health outcomes.

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