|INTERVIEWING TIP OF THE MONTH
# 122 April 2010
Helping with the Psychological Stress Post-Abortion
TISA Description of the Problem: Here is a really wonderful tip given to me by a primary care physician at a recent conference, Scott Stringfield, MD. Scott addresses the difficulty some women may have in sharing their pain regarding a recent abortion and in some clinicians asking about it.
Tip: If during an initial History and Physical, or during subsequent care, a clinician uncovers that a patient has had an abortion, it can be easy for a clinician to sort of "skip over" the topic and move on. In reality, I think it is important to help the patient feel free to discuss the topic, for it may have a PTSD-like component, and often there have been very few opportunities for the patient to share their feelings.
I ask, "How are you doing with that?" If the patient says "Fine" I add,"If you ever need to talk about it, I'm here to listen." If instead the patient says something like, "I'm not doing too well", then I can sensitively open the topic for more sharing by saying, "Tell me a little more about how you have been dealing with it." I find that the above approach often leads to important sharing and healing.
TISA Follow-up: I have little to add except this tip shows once again the power of a single question to relieve pain, as well as the power of teaching specific, concrete clinical interviewing tips to our trainees. This one is a gem.
Tip provided by:
Scott Stringfield, M.D.
Via Christi Family Medicine
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