Mike Stewart

Physiotherapist & Know Pain Course Tutor

Mike is a physiotherapist, researcher and visiting university lecturer with over twenty years experience of helping people to overcome pain. Mike is a dedicated practice-based educator who is passionate about providing evidence-based education to a wide variety of health professionals. He teaches across elite sports, and is an advisor on pain management to the International Olympic Committee.

Mike has a Masters degree in Education and is planning a PhD focusing on pain and communication. His published work has received international praise from the leading names in neuroscience.

“My hairdresser is a better communicator than any physio!” Is it time to develop our communication skills?

The ability to communicate effectively, both as a healthcare professional and as somebody who is living with pain cannot be understated. As any effective communicator will tell you (hairdressers often make highly effective communicators!), meaningful communication requires a collaborative, synchronised understanding between two people at an equal level.

The best communicators are able to form a meaningful, understanding partnership. Although this sounds simple enough, this critical foundation for forming a therapeutic alliance, has been found to be lacking in healthcare. Healthcare communication has been described as didactic, paternalistic and clinician-led throughout the scientific literature. Rather than feeling like equals, the evidence shows that patients are often cast as passive recipients of information, leaving them to be left feeling unheard, disconnected and isolated in what should be a therapeutic opportunity to share their experiences.

Our clinical knowledge and expertise count for very little if we are unable to communicate what we know to patients in a way that makes sense to them. The formation of a collaborative partnership and the subsequent pivotal therapeutic alliance are at risk if people experiencing pain feel unable to openly express how it feels and how it impacts on their lives.

This presentation aims to explore the challenges clinicians face when attempting to provide effective communication. The talk will provide you with practical tips and ideas to help you develop your communication skills. You will be able to use these ideas in your clinic to help you to better understand your patients problems, and to make it easier for your patients to express their experience and discover solutions towards their recovery.