At the primary level of active listening are administrative personnel, especially at hospitals, who need to direct patients to the correct physicians for their ailments. Administrative personnel at doctors' offices are also important, as these personnel are often engaged in decision-making processes regarding the length of appointments and the care that is needed.
6. Roles, responsibilities and relationships of project team members
The team leader will administer the responsibilities of each team member, as well as collocating the data gathered during interviews. The team leader will also determine the final format and content of the report.
Several roles will cover the various interviews to be conducted. Physicians, nurses, administrators, and patients will be interviewed. Within these groups, the type of illness and cultural context should also be investigated. Where doctors operate in a multi-cultural context, the potential exists to investigate the effectiveness of active listening, or its absence, can be investigated. Furthermore, the effects of active listening in the critical clinical context as opposed to the GP office can also be investigated. Provided that enough team members are available, each will fulfill one of these interview roles. Focusing one role per team member will provide a valuable sense of consistency when interviews are conducted and data compared.
All conductors of interviews will report to the team leader. Each person who conducted interviews will be responsible for transcribing the interviews in question and creating reports that provide the main themes of each interview.
7. Team Development and Conflict
Because teams are made up of human beings, it is likely that conflicts will arise, especially during the beginning stages, when team members are not yet familiar with the procedure, their tasks, and the management setup. The team will need time to develop a proactive approach towards the project at hand, as well as towards finding solutions to problems that may arise. Before the team will function effectively as a unit, however, time will be required for the resolution of interpersonal and team conflicts that may arise.
Glasl and Friedrich (2004, p. 3) define teams as "work groups" that fulfill tasks for which joint cooperation is required. To achieve optimal cooperation and performance, the authors note that there are five levels of team work at which good conditions need to exist. These include: Individual group members; content; interaction; procedure; and external group relations.
At the individual member level, group members each possess specific personalities, perceptions, concepts and ideas, emotions, intentions, and behaviors. These need to be at a relatively stable level for groups to function effectively. Each group member should have intentions and behaviors that at least aim to function well as part of a team. This is also the first level at which conflict might arise, as task allocation and leadership may be perceived as incompatible with individual personalities or aims.
The second level is the content or issue level, where the topic and task to be performed are the focus. This is a more collective level of teamwork, and each team member should be in agreement about the specific task to be performed. Conflict could arise here when all team members are not in agreement or at the same level of understanding with regard to the purpose of the project or the tasks that need to be completed in order to achieve this purpose.
At the third level, interactions at the psychosocial level need to be effective in order to work together as a group. Group members need to have attitudes that are positive both towards each other and the general leadership of the team, as well as to the tasks that are to be performed.
At the procedure or method level, techniques for problem-solving and decision-making need to be in place. This means that internal rules should be in place, according to which team members can make analyses, transcribe data, and make decisions regarding important information to submit for the report.
At the fifth level, the team functions within the context of a certain group. In the case of this study, the external group will be the medical community that is the target of research. In the research, there will necessarily be certain rules and regulations according to which team members should interact with the medical community. These rules and regulations should be disseminated to all team members according to the specific community they will enter, whether this be individual doctors' offices, patients' rooms, or administrative personnel work stations.
Specifically, the doctor-patient relationship should receive the highest degree of respect, and agreements can be drawn up by means of which researchers pledge to maintain the anonymity of patients.
Generally, conflicts that arise would be likely to occur at one of these levels. The team leader should be highly aware of the potential for conflict, especially at the beginning of the work, and maintain an open paradigm of communication with team members. Team members who experience conflict should then be willing to communicate the nature and extent of the problem with the team leader. The team leader, in turn, should identify the nature and level of the conflict, and act as swiftly as possible to obtain a resolution.
The possibility of conflict should be minimized by means of as much communication as possible during the first stages of the work. Team members should make sure that they are aware of all the rules and regulations of their work, while also being aware of the needs of the group and how each role contributes to fulfilling the collective task of the group.
Indeed, the very central topic of the project, which is active listening, can be used as a springboard for interpersonal conflict resolution. Team members can be made aware of the lessons learned regarding active listening and how this can promote mutual understanding among the team members. A sound theoretical basis should be built prior to the practical investigation, which can in turn be used for the purpose of conflict resolution when team members find themselves in disagreement with each other or with their research subjects.
Active listening is a vital part of communication. This is particularly so in the case of the medical community, where patients often struggle not only with the physical effects of their illness, but also the psychological difficulties and uncertainties the condition creates. This, in turn, could have an impact on the diagnosis and effective treatment of the condition. Active listening to promote an understanding of a patient's underlying communication could go a long way towards speeding up the process and curbing frustration for both physicians and their clients. Doctors and other medical personnel would therefore do well to create a basis of understanding from which they can work effectively. Research on both serious and minor conditions appear to agree that active listening is more likely to create a holistic conception of the patient's condition than simply applying traditional diagnostic tools (Van Weel et al., 2008).
Importantly, active listening extends not only to the primary condition of the patient, but also his or her overall experience of the therapeutic process. This also extends to the context of culture. An active-listening doctor will have better patient outcomes for cross-cultural cases than a physician who does not engage in this type of listening (Gao et al., 2009). Indeed, this is as important in preliminary screening as it is during and after the therapeutic process.
Furthermore, active listening is a rich field of study, particularly for the medical profession, where it does not only promote the healing process, but could also mean the difference between life and death for a patient.
As mentioned by Hoffman, Utley, and Ciccarone (2008) as well as Klemenc-Ketis and Kersnik (2011), this has important implications not only for current physicians and their practice, but also for the training and education of up and coming physicians. Increasingly, it is being recognized that active listening is a vital component of the healing process. Hence, it is recommended that physician training programs be developed for both medical students and existing physicians to enhance their active listening skills. These programs should include a component that indicates the importance of active listening in the therapeutic process.
A further recommendation is that more research be conducted into the effects of active listening, especially in patient outcomes for minority cultures, and in any situation where the physician's culture differs from that of the patient. Furthermore, active listening should be investigated in all areas of the medical profession. This project considered only a limited number of components, including serious, life-threatening conditions, minor conditions, the hospital and GP visitation context, nurses, administrative personnel, and certain cultures. This provides a good platform for further, more in-depth investigations into the benefits of active listening.
Another are of further investigation is also the dangers inherent in active listening. Misinterpretations, for example, could create the danger of serious misdiagnoses and incorrect treatment prescriptions. Although this might…