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Mark Peyrot, Ph.D., at 6th Annual Harriet Mackay Forum

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

When patients and doctors can engage in honest conversation, that’s when care is at its best. That was the take-home message of “What People Think About Diabetes, Why It Matters, and What Can Be Done,” the 6th Annual Harriet Mackay Forum (named for the first diabetes educator, who worked under Dr. Elliott P. Joslin).

Mark Peyrot, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology at Loyola University delivered the physician-centric lecture on October 15. He focused on showing doctors and other health care providers how they can better communicate with their patients to achieve best results from care.

The thesis of Dr. Peyrot’s lecture was that if doctors understand what their patients think about their own diabetes, they will be able to improve on individualized care.

He emphasized an “ask, don’t tell” approach, which recommended health care providers ask more and more pointed questions to get the heart of whatever problems their patients might have. Start with “are you having any troubles in your self-care?”, for example, and ask as many follow-up questions as necessary to allow the patient to feel comfortable openly discussing their self-management difficulties.

Dr. Peyrot also suggested that when doctors hear concerns borne from misinformation they not only correct their patients but understand why they believed the misinformation in the first place. He analogized this type of knowledge to water: misinformation is muddy water, facts are clear water. Pouring the clear water into the muddy water without addressing why the water was muddy in the first place will only lead to more muddy water—or in this case, more confused facts running through the patient’s mind.

The bottom line—doctors and patients will have the most successful relationship and best outcomes when they talk openly and honestly about self-management.

Page last updated: January 17, 2013