Communication Concepts in Nursing


Nursing practice has been structurally modified over the past few decades, with new theoretical perspectives and functional meanings. The nurse’s role with respect to clinical relevance is also being changed, as the nurse is rapidly becoming an independent member of the health care organization, serving the patient and family members. Due to this expansion of functional responsibilities, the role of effective communication for nurses has increased significantly. Strictly speaking, it is not only the quality and usefulness of communication that determines the operational alignment within the clinic but also the outcomes of care for specific patients (Song et al., 2017). It is clear that all parties involved have an interest in enhancing communication value in the organization, so clinical leaders are adopting a variety of approaches to improve the quality of nurse-to-nurse communication. There are a large number of techniques developed and practiced for effective nurse communication, but not all of them are viable. This essay aims to critically analyze several communication concepts and discuss their applicability within the nursing profession.

The Multidisciplinary Team

One approach found in the academic literature is the creation of a multidisciplinary team. Such a team should be understood as a working group of nurses, and clinical staff from different departments brought together for a specific task or project (Andre et al., 2016). This approach has obvious strengths: a plurality of opinions and professional perspectives helps reduce individual employee bias, and delegating responsibilities significantly reduces the operational time (Dittman & Hughes, 2018). Such team members effectively complement each other, sharing skills and knowledge — research shows that having such teams qualitatively improves professional treatment capabilities and increases patient comfort (Lockhart, 2015). On the other hand, not every nurse has developed teamwork skills, and the operational necessity to do so can lead to greater stress or team destructuring (Andre et al., 2016). In addition, teamwork requires great effective management skills in which the leader knows how to inspire and motivate to work; otherwise, the team will be unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, multidisciplinary teams are widely used in working clinical practice because their advantages significantly outweigh potential weaknesses. Solving a complex patient problem or having ethical dilemmas requires the work of professionals of different orientations. In addition, any organizational boards that make key decisions in patient management or clinical development as a whole also require multidisciplinary specialists to join to minimize possible bias and systematic errors.

Adapting Communication

Another concept of nursing communication found in the literature search is adapting communication. Communication between patients and nurses typically occurs, according to Kirca &Bademli (2019), during times of emotional instability or when there is a desire for an answer to a difficult question from the patient. However, in this sense, it should be understood that the nurse is not a friend or psychologist to the patient but must effectively combine friendliness and wisdom in her communication in order to dispose of the patient. Adapting communication according to the patient’s mood and requests is thus a crucial factor in enabling the nurse to improve the quality of her interaction with the patient (Spassiani et al., 2020). In terms of strengths, adapting communication has an advantage for the patient because they are guaranteed to receive quality, constructive communication. On the other hand, the nurse, as the bearer of this form of communication, receives the patient’s trust in return, so she can perform her professional functions more smoothly and efficiently (Strandås & Bondas, 2018). Meanwhile, adapting communication implies that the nurse has excellent communication skills, which may not always be the case (Kirca &Bademli, 2019). Additionally, this communication approach means that nurses must ignore subjective experiences and emotions when communicating with patients, exhibiting a high degree of professionalism. Despite the benefit of this professionalism to the patient, hiding personal feelings can negatively affect the mental health of the nurse and lead to burnout.

When effectively managed, adapting communication is the foundation of effective communication between the nurse and patients or family members. A professional nurse must have developed communication skills in order to clearly sense the patient’s mood and to structure the dialogue in a way that is of greatest benefit to the patient. If a patient appears to be in an unstable mental state, for example, and is yelling at clinic staff, the nurse should not yell back but should use conflict management skills to resolve problems — this is an illustration of adapting communication. In other words, this communication approach allows the greatest mutual benefit from communication, so its ubiquity in clinics is a necessity. Meanwhile, it is critical to build an understanding of adapting communication in which nurses do not lose the opportunity to express personal emotions and discuss experiences in order to inhibit the likelihood of professional burnout.

Communication and Performance

Research on the relationship between nurses’ communication skills and their overall performance and work efficiency is important in the academic field. Improved communication skills are thought to have a positive impact on increased patient interaction efficiency and thus lead to shorter treatment times (Strandås & Bondas, 2018). This seems like a reasonable idea, as when a nurse invests more labor in constructive communication with the patient, the patient, in turn, is more engaged in the therapy process, and overall, this has a stimulating effect on therapy outcomes. The strengths of helpful communication, however, are not limited to increased efficiency; there are many more. In fact, communication allows one to instantly learn about the patient’s physical and emotional state, track changes, and understand the specific needs that the patient needs (Ratna, 2019). Additionally, through constructive communication, the nurse can learn about the social determinants of a patient’s health and frame further therapy to minimize the impact of negative predictors (Ataguba O. & Ataguba J., 2020). Building trusting communication is also positively associated with increased patient satisfaction, as the need for emotional contact and support is covered.

Meanwhile, there are several limitations and weaknesses regarding effective communication that hinder a favorable outcome of the interaction. As noted, not all nurses have developed communication skills and sustained emotional intelligence, so in working practice, such staff may inhibit a trusting relationship with the patient (Song et al., 2017). In addition, effective communication implies serious psychosocial training, as communication is not only verbal but also through emotional gestures and body language. In this case, it is appropriate to say that the weak point of this approach is the need to spend additional time on training communication skills. Finally, we should not rule out the possibility of professional burnout as a factor in constant communication between the patient and nurse (Havens et al., 2018). When a nurse interacts with different patients on a daily basis, it can have a negative impact on the mental health of the nurse, which is what causes burnout.

In clinical working practice, however, communication is actively used. It allows not only to systematically keep up-to-date information about the patient and the clinic but also to increase the patient’s involvement in the therapeutic process. However, leaders of clinical organizations should clearly understand that frequent communication can be a predictor of burnout. Uninterested in this condition, leaders should invest in the development of psychological support for nurses so that burnout is prevented as early as possible. This will allow for the most painless practice of effective communication in nursing.


To summarize, this critical analysis discussed three concepts of nursing communication, among them adapting communication, effective communication, and multidisciplinary teams. Each of the methods has been shown to be an excellent tool for creating a constructive organizational environment in which the patient becomes more involved in the therapeutic process. The result of this involvement is improved treatment outcomes and a higher rate of recovery. However, the weaknesses of each of the three concepts were also discussed, and it was shown that burnout, the need to learn skills, and the inability to work in a team are important barriers to improving such an environment.

Based on the findings, several recommendations can be made to improve the communication agenda in clinics. First, organizational leaders should invest in training employees in ways that enhance their communication skills; however, such training should not be time-consuming and stressful for nurses. Second, having centralized psychosocial support for nurses within the clinic is a necessary strategy to minimize the likelihood of professional burnout. Finally, a common culture of communication should be established and recognized by clinic staff to ensure uniformity of approach and an encouraged rejection of verbally abusive or disruptive communication.


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Dittman, K., & Hughes, S. (2018). Increased nursing participation in multidisciplinary rounds to enhance communication, patient safety, and parent satisfaction. Critical Care Nursing Clinics, 30(4), 445-455.

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Lockhart, L. (2015). Everybody wins with multidisciplinary teams. Nursing Made Incredibly Easy, 13(2), 54-55.

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Song, H.-S., Choi, J. Y., & Son, Y.-J. (2017). The relationship between professional communication competences and nursing performance of critical care nurses in South Korea. International Journal of Nursing Practice, 23(5). Web.

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Strandås, M., & Bondas, T. (2018). The nurse–patient relationship as a story of health enhancement in community care: A meta‐ethnography. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 74(1), 11-22.

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