Health Dialogue Elements Identified During Communication Between Patients and Nurses in a South African Municipality

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Lesley Talbot, BACur
School of Nursing; Faculty Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Marianne Reid, PhD, MSocSc (Nsg), BACur (Nsg), BCur (Nsg)
School of Nursing, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Mariette Nel, MMedSc
Department Biostatistics, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

Participatory health communication with its transactional and interactional intent is realised through the occurrence of dialogue, a communication technique (Schiavo, 2014: 7-9; Wood, 2012:11). This process is widely documented as a major contributor towards the achievement of positive health outcomes and patient-centered health care (Mulder, Lokhorst, Rutten, & van Woerkum, 2014:1; Schiavo, 2014: 26-27; Rensburg & Krige, 2011:78; Parchman, Zeber, & Palmer, 2010:410).

Health communication where both patient and nurse are equal partners in the communication and decision making process is recognised in a number of current day strategic plans guiding service delivery. In particular, those addressing the chronic and non-communicable life style disease, diabetes. Diabetes is an unchecked and growing challenge facing all South Africans and if left unattended will place a massive socio-economic burden on the individual and society in general. (South Africa: Department of Health, 2014:14).

Patients and nurses interact on a daily basis with the purpose of improving health outcomes. Health dialogue as conceptually analysed, provides essential elements which needs to be present. It is not known however to what extent the elements of dialogue are incorporated into each individual patient and nurse interaction.


The objectives are to identify, the three antecedents and empirical elements and to assess the presence of these elements during health communication between patients with diabetes and nurses.


The study will make use of a quantitative descriptive cross-sectional research design. Proportional sampling of health care facilities in the Sol Plaatje Local Municipality(n=17) will take place. A total of 32 nurses will be observed whilst they interact one on one with a total of 5 patients each. An observation checklist and guidelines will be applied to record findings observed during interviews (n=160). Audio recordings of each interview will be made to verify and support data collected.




The initial response to the research findings will hopefully stimulate an awareness into present-day health communication and the occurrence of health dialogue elements used during patient with diabetes and nurse interaction in the health facilities in a South African Municipality.

It is trusted that the results will provide a meaningful contribution towards the multifaceted research intervention on health communication currently in South Africa, which will ultimately see the development and testing of a health dialogue model for patients with diabetes and other chronic conditions in countries worldwide.