Mandeep Bains - CAPhO16 Summary Report

mandeep bainsI was one of the lucky recipients of a CAPhO Conference Travel Grant this year, which enabled me to attend the conference in Niagara Falls. Side story - my youngest child really wanted to come as he had just read about Niagara Falls (and the 63yo woman who survived a trip over them in a barrel). But I didn’t bring him because, from what I remembered from a previous visit, I thought there wasn’t much for kids to do (and I also didn’t want him attempting the barrel stunt). Turns out Niagara Falls has really changed since the ‘90s!  Upon arrival I saw the skyline lit up by the Sky Wheel as well as the Falls, and there were a plethora of kid friendly attractions like arcades, haunted houses etc. I’ll have to come back with the family someday. Anyhow, I had been really keen to attend the conference because of this year’s theme “Can We Talk?” being about effective communication. Despite the 3 hour time difference, 8 am in ON = 5am in BC, I found myself engaged during the various sessions.
I learned about Motivational Communication (MC) and how it can help improve adherence outcomes in the plenary talk “Why won’t they listen?!...” by Kim Lavoie. She highlighted the problems with our traditional “persuasive” patient counselling approach – namely that people don’t like being told what to do, and are more likely to change their behaviour if they are involved in coming up with the reasons to do so themselves. She talked about how to use the MC techniques of selective questioning, proper listening, and giving information to better engage our patients. Perhaps counter-intuitively, in order to get the patients to listen, we need to listen better ourselves.
Later in the Research session “Burning Questions…” by Kelly Grindrod I learned about when/how to use Qualitative research methods like interviews and focus groups to better understand patients’ perceptions of their care. Some of the conference posters showed these methods being used to gauge patients’ experiences with various patient counselling delivery methods. In the Hot Topic Cluster session “Counseling Strategies for Patient Engagement” with Jamie Kellar, I was introduced to other useful tools like the “Readiness to Change Ruler”, and the “Ineffective Pharmacist” vs. “Effective Pharmacist” YouTube videos. These further illustrate how to use the non-judgemental listening and targeted questioning MC approaches in patient counselling. Essentially, the questions we choose to ask can help open patients up to talking about change in scenarios like smoking cessation. 
I will be incorporating what I learned about effective patient communication into my personal practice, and also into an educational module about Patient Counselling that I’m involved in authoring (for the BC Cancer Agency Oncology Pharmacy Education Program). I’d like to thank CAPhO for the Travel Grant – not only was attending the conference useful for learning, but it also left me feeling inspired!
Mandeep K. Bains